I'm reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen.

It's good stuff.

It has really got me thinking about the food that we eat.  I think that we eat pretty healthy, but Pollen really talks a lot about how today's food culture talks a lot about individual nutrients but not much about the processing or extra ingredients that get shoved in during the process of making food more "nutritious."

I'll be honest, parts of the book are dry.

It is a book about food and nutrients and the history of eating in America.

But what caught my interest were the rules in the back of the book.  I've decided to tackle them one by one with the hopes that I can actually understand what I'm feeding my family.  

So last week I loaded Josie and Gabriel up and headed to our local grocery store to stock up with Rule One in mind:

Avoid products with ingredients that are A) Unfamiliar, B) Unpronounceable, C) More Then 5 In Number, or that include D) High Fructose Corn Syrup.

None of these things are awful in and of themselves, but they are really great ways to tell if something has been processed out the wazoo.

My rule sounded simple, "pronounce, understand, under 5"

In reality, finding things to buy that fit this rule was next to impossible.

So much so that I busted out my camera for a little illustration.

I get that a lot of today's foods are loaded with preservatives and other additives that aren't even real food ingredients.  

I'm pretty good about not buying those things.  

But there were a ton of items that should only have a few ingredients that had lists that blew my mind.

Like bread.

It's been made since pretty much the start of time.  3 or 4 ingredients.

Flour, yeast, water, and maybe some honey.

So why does Sara Lee's Wheat Bread label look like this?

I couldn't even get the whole list in the shot.

 I read bread labels for, no joke, 10 minutes.

Josie started to get antsy so I picked the shortest list I could find.

So we are having Tostadas one night this week so I mosey on over to the rice isle.

We could eat this:

Or I could make some brown rice, add in my own spices and tomato paste, throw in a little corn, and leave out the other junk.

I seriously cannot pronounce the majority of that label.

And did you catch the warning at the bottom.  Sulfites are gross and cause all sorts of health problems.

Ugh, and my old favorite creamer was even worse.

It is "Good To Know" Nestle.

You may be trans fat, lactose, and gluten free, but you are not free from more than 11 unrecognizable and very science sounding ingredients.

And you're not in my fridge.

I switched to regular old half and half about 2 months ago and haven't missed this stuff at all.  Sometimes I add a splash of vanilla, but for the most part, this is my creamer label now:

Yogurt is another thing we eat a ton of around here.

It should have one ingredient: Cultured Milk.  

Total fail.

I do love how all these packages now say "Gluten Free" as if that negates the science experiment listed above it.

And you might have noticed that the organic version is not much better then the regular brand.

I sure noticed.

I was actually pretty peeved about it.

I've spent a lot of money buying the more expensive version because I assumed "Organic" meant "Healthier."

But we rarely buy flavored yogurt.  I buy big cartons of plain yogurt and we add fruit or granola to sweeten it up.

This is the organic yogurt we usually buy:

Make that USED to buy.

Dannon's brands label fit my new rule much better:

It may not be organic, but I know what's in it and it's not a bunch of junk that causes cancer.

I left the store feeling much more educated about marketing and food choices.  

And a little ridiculous for taking so many pictures in the middle of Kroger.

Adding Rule Two on our next trip.


kimmer said...

Totally good to know information and I believe very true . I am only sad to see the flavored cream go away as I've been in denial for a long time about the fact that it's bad for us. DANG... Why must things be bad that taste so good? I do love that quote by Julia Child... 'If you're afraid of butter....use more cream' lol Thank you for sharing, Nicole!

LB said...

Great post! Makes me scared to look at our labels but definitely want to make healthier choices!

Kaia said...

I'll be interested to see what the next rule is! I've been paying more attention to it all, too, and it's crazy.