What Food Labels Really Say

Earlier today on my Instagram page, I shared a picture of a product label.


I tell everyone to read the label on everything you consume.

My mom enjoy’s grapes and she eats a lot of them. The purpose of this update isn’t to throw any particular company under a bus.  Instead, my intentions are to educate you (and me) on why we have to stay diligent in reading labels and doing research on any product we consume (internal or topical).

The more research I do, the more I realize how confusing the lingo and the process is. I am certain this is all by design.  So let’s try to dissect this mess!

Nature’s Partner, a self-proclaimed, family business who grows fruits and vegetables.

The label says: Grown & Packed By VIDEXPORT S.A. DE C.V. * Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico


VIDEXPORT is a produce marketing company and is a partner of Nature’s Partner.


The grapes are a “product of Mexico” and are distributed by Giumarra in Los Angelos, CA.

A closer look at Giumarra reveals that the Black Seedless Table Grapes are grown and exported from Mexico, so I think the mention of Los Angelos on the label is for consumers who think they are buying from the US (a marketing tactic).  At a glance, the label will trick you. Sidebar:  If you wear reading glasses, when you shop for food, start taking your specs with you.

Check out this out!  Some of Giumarra’s produce is USDA Certified Organic while others are not.  😦


Hot peppers, cucumbers, honeydew melons, and grapes are the only products that are NOT USDA Certified Organic.  This makes me nervous and should do the same for you.

Lastly and according to the label, the grapes are

“treated with Sulfur Dioxide for fungicide use”

I am not a science person but I researched Sulfur Dioxide or (SO2) and learned the following about Sulfur Dioxide:

  • It is a chemical compound that is a toxic gas found in the atmosphere.
  • The largest source of production in the air is from the burning of fossil fuels by power plants and other industrial facilities.
  • Short-term health exposure and affect the human respiratory system and make breathing difficult.
  • Children, the elderly, and those who suffer from asthma are particularly sensitive to effects of SO2.
  • Environmentally it can harm trees and plants by damaging foliage and decreasing growth and contribute to acid rain which can harm sensitive ecosystems.

So what’s the bottom line?  Do your best (as I do) to buy locally grown produce and freeze them for later usage. If you are more adventurous and like the idea of playing in some dirt, try growing some of your own produce.

Try to buy produce that is grown and distributed in the US.  Produce grown in other countries are difficult for our government agencies to regulate.  They can pretty much do and say anything they want.

Read food and beverage labels.  If you don’t like what you’re read about a product, write the company and/or stop buying the item.

Follow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on twitter and facebook. The agency posts updates on their pages.  You will be surprised by what the information posted on their web page.  The facts are published but consumers rarely make time to read it.

Acquire knowledge, apply it to your life and share with everyone that you know.  Us consumers have to stick together.  When we stick together we have a voice that makes a difference.

Although I grew up helping my mother in our large garden, I haven’t gardened in years. I still have fond memories of picking fresh green beans, peppers, tomatoes, corn, and more from our garden.

Although, it’s been many years I am happy to share with you that this summer, I will start my first vertical garden as well as, a vegetable container garden. I think this a simpler approach to gardening that will work for me and my elderly mother will enjoy helping out. The enormous amount of chemicals used to grown fruits and vegetables have inspired me to return to my roots.

Additional Reading

Organic Standard

Sulfur Dioxide

When to plant

Not So Pretty in Pink

This Kellogg’s Special K Protein shake was gifted to me from the heart of a loving woman.


In my last post, I expressed a little attitude (my opinion) toward  food manufacturers and their attractive but deceptive advertising practices.

When I wrote the post, this shake is the type of food I had in mind.  This package is dolled up like it’s a birthday gift or something.  Lol!!  There is no doubt in my mind that the target market is women whose goal is to lose weight and/or maintain a healthier lifestyle.

The pink is overkill and offensive to me.  I could take this post to another level and compare the packing of a similar project to our male counterparts, but I won’t. Sigh!

With so much talk about “protein” in the fitness world, no wonder it is the focus of this product.

Come on ladies!!  Get your protein!  The woman who purchased this for me is aware of my fitness passion.  While her intentions were good; there is no way, I would drink this crap.

Of course Kellogg’s want you to believe that the protein in this beverage is going to “satisfy your hunger.” Yeah okay, right! Wink..wink.  How the heck is a 10 ounce bottle of this stuff gonna satisfy my hunger before or after a workout?

While plant and animal based proteins are the most satisfying, I am certain that this 10 ounce beverage is not going to do it for you…  That’s just my opinion.

Look at the label. 18 grams of sugar!!  Whoa!

Sugar is the devil and is linked to so many preventable illnesses.  Make sure you read Kristen Kirkpatrick‘s article, 1o Things You Don’t Know About Sugar.  I hope that it is an eye-opener for you.

Since I don’t know what some of the ingredients are, I  decided to read up on a few.

1.  Maltodextrin – A popular used food additive, which is “derived from a plant,” is a highly processed starch.  According to Healthline,

maltodextrin may come from corn, cornstarch, rice, or potato starch.  It can also come from wheat.  The starches are cooked then acids or enzymes are added to break it down further, before resulting in a white powder.

While the packing suggests the drink is gluten free,  relative to Malt0dextrin,


Someone with celiac disease should use caution when consuming maltodextrin and should consult their physician.  You should also know that this addictive is commonly found in nutritional drinks, sugar substitutes, granola, coffee, commercially baked goods, even those labeled gluten-free, pie fillings, sauces, puddings salad dressings, candy, chocolate, sugar substitutes, canned fruit (Eeeew), gelatin, and prepared soup products.  Read labels!

2. Polydextrose –  Two words:  synthetic fiber. It was patented in 1973 and approved by the FDA in 1981.  Although it is not grain fiber, the FDA classifies  it as “soluble fiber.”  Personally I would rather get my fiber from a natural source such as oatmeal (steel cut oats), beans, brown rice, brown rice and vegetables.

3. Natural & Artificial Flavors – The FDA describes artificial favors as a substance that  “…..is NOT derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish poultry, eggs, dairy products….”  Do you see strawberries listed anywhere in the ingredients?  Nope!  But lovely images of strawberries are plastered all over the the product. Really?!?

4. Gellan Gum – This is a microbiological gelling agent that serves the purpose of thickening or “anti-settling agent. It does not alter taste but is commonly used in soups and sauces. ” You can read about the effects of Gellan gum in humans here.

5. Potassium Citrate – Livestrong reports that PC can be found naturally in foods, but is also used as a food additive to stabilize foods and to regulate their acidity levels.  For a list of foods that naturally contain potassium, click Here.  Potassium Citrate is also used as a prescription medication used for several medical conditions, including kidney stones. Learn more  about potassium at one of my favorite sites, The world’s healthiest foods.

6. Cellulose Gum –  Oh boy, this one is a real winner!  Of course, it’s an addictive. But guess what?  It comes from Wood pulp or cotton lint.  The FDA approved this drug and reports that the drug is safe for human consumption.  Hmm…

7. Carrageenan – Another food stabilizer and thickening additictive. It keeps yogurt smooth and creamy and is commonly used in dairy and meat products.  It is said to have a strong binding ability. There are articles that are pro and con carrageenan, but this is one ingredient that I have been avoiding for over year now.

Carrageenan appears to be natural because it is actually extracted from seaweed; however, it is in the processing that changes into a “degraded”carrageenan.  Stay with me here.  In some experiments it has been linked to inflammation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer list degraded carrageenan as a possible carcinogen.  Lab studies have also shown that it can induce inflammation.

Carrageenan can also be found in many organic foods.  I was disappointed and shock to read from Cornucopia Institute that:

carrageenan may be present in the final product but not listed on the ingredients label when it is used as a processing agent.

Yikes!!  You don’t have to take my word for it, do your own research and decide for yourself. 🙂

8. Red 3, Yellow 6, Blue 1 – Food coloring.  Ugh.. The Dyes!!  This really needs to be post of its own. 😦

Nutritionfacts.org reports that,

 Fifteen million pounds of food dyes are sold every year in the US.

Food dyes are used to make food visually more appealing to consumers. Reds are brighter, greens are greener, etc… And in the case of this strawberry protein shake, which does not have any strawberries in it, the dye deceptively  gives it a pink color which tricks you into believing that the beverage contain strawberries.  Smh!

There is a plethora of controversy over food dyes.

Red #1, #2, and #4 all have been banned, but #3 is still used today. Multiple studies suggest food dyes are linked to ADHD, certain types of cancer and other illnesses.

Yellow #5  and #6 are also of concern, especially to parents of young children.  Studies have shown increased hyperactivity in children who are exposed to the dyes.

When our son was younger, I witnessed the effects of food dyes on his behavior, and decided to limit his exposure.  Hence, he was no longer permitted to eat any foods before school that had any traces of food coloring.  This decision helped him to focus better in school. Hubby wasn’t convinced until he witnessed the effects one day during football practice.

It was our son’s birthday, so earlier in the day, he enjoyed cake and cupcakes that were slathered in red and blue icing. Later during football practice, it was obvious that he had trouble controlling himself.

He aimlessly and recklessly tackled teammates when he was instructed not to. We watched him repeatedly roll around on the field like he was on fire or something. With his arms high in the air, the coach who was very frustrated, walked over to us and asked, “What the hell??”

I laughed.  I apologized.  Then I explained the reasons for his behavior. It was so uncharacteristic behavior of our son that the coach was literally scratching his head.  I remember looking at my husband and asking him, “Now do you believe me?”  LOL!!  I think it was at that moment that he understood the affects of sugar and food coloring on our son.

Blue #1 and #2 are listed as another food coloring of concern. In addition to asthma, ADHD comes up again.  There is a pattern linking ADHD to various food coloring.

Although there is so much to say about this beverage and other foods, I think you get my point… READ LABELS.

The more informed you are, the better choices you can make for you and your family.

Thanks for dropping in and Happy Tuesday!

How Much Sugar Are in These Crackers?

After leaving the gym one morning, I stopped by Shoprite my local grocery store to pick up a few items.  

After paying for my groceries, I am about to walk out the door when an elderly man stopped me.  As he approached me, he held a box of crackers in his hand. Pointing his finger at the label he says…

  

Excuse me honey, can you tell me how much sugar are in these crackers?

I was not wearing my reading glasses, so to read the label and to see the sugar content, I had to focus really hard. 🤓

Sir, according to the label, the crackers contain only one gram of sugar per serving, but if you are watching your sugar intake, I don’t recommend you eat them?

Really?   Why is that?

I point to the first ingredient, Enriched Flour.  “Do you see this here?” 
I try to give him a quick synopsis and tell him that the white flour is a starch, which isn’t the best choice for him. I explain that the starches are going to eventually break down in his body into simple sugar.   

He is shocked and says he is not going to buy them.  I tell him to look for “whole grains.” 

Of course there is so much to it then eating whole grains but I did not have the time to say all that I wanted and needed to say. 

My time was limited but I desperately wanted to take his hand and walk him aisle by aisle through the store to show him healthier options.  

Food labels are tricky and deceptive. The labels are colorful and are strategically designed to get our attention to buy their products.  It  seems that every aspect of this country is about profit. 

Healthy living is sacrificed for greed and for profit. 

Just look at Martin Shkreli.  The jerk… I mean CEO of Turing Pharmaceuicals.  He jacked up the price of a prescription drug designed to help save the lives of HIV patients.  He tried to increase the price from $13.50 per pill to $750.00 per pill!  What the heck!!

GREED!!  

The intentional trickery and lies told by food manufacturers is disturbing.  Consumers must read food labels; however, the education does not stop with reading labels. The process of educating oneself is ongoing and there are many valuable sources available online and in print.  Below are a few sites to check out but there are many. 

I also enjoy reading the free magazines from The Vitamin Store.  Several  magazines are located at the register and they are full of resourceful information.   

As I said in the beginning, I wish I had the time to walk the man and others like him through the store to help them to find healthier alternatives.  Hmm…. Maybe that’s something I could do on the side.   

Just remember, don’t be so quick to believe the pretty little lies they tell you on the colorful packaging.  Dig deeper to find what’s really in the food.   Just because the words “natural,” “low calorie,” “organic,” or “sugar free” are printed on a package, doesn’t mean that is true. Sadly, food manufacturers and companies can make all kinds of outlandish and untrue statements about their products.  The practice should be unlawful but it is not.

Some of these companies are such blatant liars, I can’t stand it!  If you stand close enough to me in the grocery store, you can overhear me saying, “liar! Liar!”   Lol!  I’m laughing but it is true.   

My rule of thumb is if an item has too many ingredients listed, for the most part, I leave it alone.  If you don’t already know, there is a large amount of the first ingredient listed on a label.  So when you see sugar as one of the first, second, or third ingredients written in anyone of it’s 61 forms, toss it pack on the shelf. 

Yes!!  According to Sugar Science, there are “at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels. I didn’t know that!  Some of the most common names are:

Sucrose

High-fructose corn syrup

Barley malt

Dextrose

Maltose

Rice syrup

Americans consume 66 pounds of added sugar each year, on average.

Added sugar is hiding in 74% of packaged food.

Okay, my sugar rant is over. I could go on and on, but I will end with a friendly reminder to read the food labels and educate yourself.   Don’t cheat yourself by putting bad stuff in your body.  The body is like an automobile, the better you care for it, the better your body will perform for you. 

For the most part, the better you care for yourself, the better you will look and feel.  🙂

Thanks for stopping by and remember to keep it moving!  

Y’all Don’t See This!

I share pictures and recipes of healthy meals here, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and a few other sites.

What y’all don’t see is the daily mental tug-of-war and the inner turmoil that I grapple with. Ugh!  Oh Lord, the guilt of feeding my family unhealthy and processed foods. I hate it!

The other day I brought a package of Jennie-O Hardwood Smoked Turkey Kielbasa.  My family likes them and I was struggling with what to cook for dinner, without repeating the same ole same meals.

I feel like I’m chickening them to death!  I also needed to cook something that would last for a couple of days… Umm.. leftovers!  I don’t have time to cook everyday nor do I want to.

I usually prepare the Kielbasa with garlic, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce served over some sort of whole wheat pasta… just the way they like it.  😦

While hubby zoned out on the laptop at the kitchen counter, I read aloud the ingredients. He was not moved, surprised or even batted an eye.  I don’t think– no, I know he was not listening, so I read the ingredients again, but this time a little louder…  Lol!!

“Turkey, manufactured, turkey, water…

Me:        “Hon!!  Did you hear that?”

Him:       “Huh?”  “What?” (looking and sounding a little annoyed)

Me:        “I just read the disgusting ingredients in this turkey I’m cooking for you guys!”

Him:       “Well what else are we supposed to eat?!?”

Me:        (Thinking) “Is he freakin serious?!?!?”

Me:        “Well we could eat more vegan based meals.”

Him:       (seemingly more annoyed) “What’s that?”

Me:        “Ugh!  Really?  Plant based meals.”

OMG!! The look on his face. Like I just called him a pervert or something. LMAO!!

Welcome to my world!

The process entails pureeing or grinding the carcass left after the manual removal of meat from the bones and then forcing the slurry through a sieve under pressure. This puree includes bone, bone marrow, skin, nerves, blood vessels in addition to the scraps of meat remaining on the bones. The resulting product is a blend of muscle (meat) and other tissues not generally considered meat.

HOLD UP!

That’s foul! I’m not buying them anymore.

Manufactured turkey is pretty much the same as “mechanically separated meat.”

Barfing yet?

I just can’t!!

If you care about your health, you should read labels on everything you eat. While I continue to educate myself, I try to share my knowledge with my family. Actually, I will share with anyone, who expresses the slightest of interest.  🙂

Some days my family are not interested in my chatter, but I refuse to stop because I care.  Caring is the frustrating part. As I continue to educate myself about food and nutrition, the need to share is only natural for me. I share with my family, my friends, my followers, and anyone else who cares to listen.  Other than my household, I try not to give unsolicited info, but I have been busted for making faces.  I’m working on this!  Lol!

I don’t want to be the pain in the ass wife and mom; however, I do my best to paint the ugliest, nastiest, and graphic images (in their minds and mine) to drive the message home.  Hahaha!!

Anything that’s good is not going to be easy and will demand more time and diligence from us.

Grocery shopping takes longer.  Why?  Because I am:

  • Scrutinizing food labels
  • Looking for healthier food options
  • Checking prices
  • Buying for two, sometimes three different meal plans
  • Buying from several different stores

I cook two sets of meals, so cooking takes longer, but I’m cool with that.

The troublesome  part for me is, even though I am pretty creative at introducing new food, subbing and swapping out bad ingredients for healthier options, my peeps still want processed foods like those nasty smoked turkey kielbasas.  What am I supposed to do?

For now, I will continue to plug away at it and incorporating healthier meals for them. I do realize I am still helping them, but I just feel like it’s not enough.  This past Sunday, I made baked ziti. I used whole wheat pasta, added zucchini and mushrooms but it still had three cheeses!  They loved it!

 I sucked on one noddle and was perfectly fine with that. 🙂

I’m dead serious.

Anyways, I would have never thought that  in 2015,  hubby would be eating avocados, flax seeds, chia seeds, and zucchini spaghetti, so I guess I am making a little progress. Hallelujah!!

Whatever you do, do not give up on your goals of living a healthier lifestyle; the benefits are endless and worthwhile.

Thanks for stopping by… and please… keep it movin!  🙂

 

 

 

Confused About What To Eat?

Confused Bear

Image courtesy of Graphic Leftovers https://www.facebook.com/glstockimages

Enter any grocery store, Walmart, Target or any place that sells food and we are reminded to eat healthier foods and to take better care of us.

For many people, that’s a tall order because they don’t know how to or what to eat because they are confused.

Inviting and colorful food labels frequently mislead consumers about their food content and nutritional value.

“Fat Free…Low Calorie… Reduced calorie…Whole Wheat…Wheat…Gluten Free…Sugar Free and more”

On top of that, food manufacturers deceive us even more with pictures of fruit like plump, ripe blueberries supposedly added to chemically processed waffles. Ugh! I just can’t!!

No wonder folks are confused!

So if you’re trying to make smarter food choices, what the heck are you supposed to do?   Read and educate yourself and….. Drum roll…

Eat fresh fruit and produce, drink water, and reduce the amount of processed foods that you eat.

Take advantage of every opportunity to read up on the subject; information is everywhere! In addition to reading articles in your local newspaper. Follow blogs, fitness and health magazines online. The information is there, you just have to read it.

The Vitamin store offers free magazines to their customers such as Life Extension, Muscle & Performance and Amazing Wellness.  All provide resourceful information that will change the way you think about food and fitness.

magazines

Check out this great article I found from a board I follow on Pinterest.  It clears up a few misconceptions about so-called healthy foods.

Healthy Foods That Can Actually Hurt Your Health

Oh and by the way, I am still participating in the 100 Happy Days Challenge. Last week was my first week back to school and I haven’t had the chance to post them here.  You can also find my happy day photos on Instagram at Lexa_82 Twitter at Lexa82.  The hashtag for my 100happydays post is #100happydays4lexa

I will update this blog with the pictures soon.

Happy Sunday and make it a fabulous day!  Smile!!!

 

 

 

Why You Should Read Food Labels

The packaging and labeling of food items is a business.  It is in fact–my opinion– a business that motivates consumer behavior.  Package coloring, size, graphics, and terminology will either make you or a child take a second look or scowl and turn away.

The most savvy and educated consumer is capable of falling into the trap of buying what “looks” healthy.

Even more so now since my figure competition training has started, I carefully–or so I thought– read the food labels on mostly everything I buy.

On Friday, I ran into a local wholesale food store to buy two rotisserie chickens. Thursday night my family ate the (my) remaining “protein” meat source. Friday is an off night for cooking, so I needed to buy something that was already cooked.

Friday nights must be a popular rotisserie chicken night, because only one was left at four something in the afternoon.  I waited a few short minutes to get the second bird that wasn’t made “natural.” But that wasn’t an issue for me.

Here’s the label:

Looks Good!

Looks Good!

Looks good right!

Gluten Free
No MSG
No Hormones or Steroids Added
No Antibiotics Ever
All Vegetarian Diet
No Animal By-Products
Minimal Processed
No Artificial Ingredients Added

No Antibiotics

Minimally Processed

The packing is even “Eco-Friendly”

EcoFriendly

Before I carved my six and half ounces of chicken on my plate, I pulled the skin and any remnants of fat off.

As I’m getting my grub on, the package is in my eye shot range and I happen to see the “Nutrition Facts.” Holy Moly!!

Look at the the Sodium!

Look at the the Sodium!

I’m cool with everything except the SODIUM counts. 490 MG per 3 oz. serving!! That means I wolfed down 1,125 (6 1/2 oz.) of sodium with just the chicken.  Okay… wait!

I read the ingredients. The first three read, “Chicken, Water, Sea Salt…” Hello!  There’s your sodium amounts girl!  Sodium chloride, salt, or sodium, it is all the same!  Too much is not good for the body.

Well… I did pull the skin off. But still. During the cooking time, the sea salt that coated the chicken’s skin, was baked in and absorbed into the chicken. So how much sodium did I actually consume, I don’t know.

What I do know is that I probably won’t buy this again. The other bird, from a different company had equal amounts of sodium.

So what’s the big deal about sodium?  Stay with me….

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day — or 1,500 mg if you’re age 51 or older, or if you are black, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.*  (I consumed nearly half the dietary guidelines in one sitting.)

Sodium cannot and should not be completely eliminated from the body.  Many of the naturals foods that we eat contain smaller amounts of sodium.  However, the American Heart Association reports that,

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor. In some people, sodium increases blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body, creating an added burden on the art.  Too much sodium in the diet may also have other harmful health effects, including increased risk for stoke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease. 

Studies have proven that high blood pressure and heart disease can be heredity.  Add the genetic predisposition to the disease and you have a recipe for disaster.

Whether you are trying to fit into your size 8 jeans, look stunning for your wedding, look hot on the beach, run a marathon, just get into shape, or something else, it is important to read food labels and educate yourself on the foods you put into your body.

We’re only given one body in this life, so why not treat it like a king or queen that it so greatly deserves.

Have a great day and remember to keep it movin!

Sources and Additional Reading

Mayo Clinic

The American Heart Association