Reading Food Labels

Grandma Gone Granola™: Simple, Inexpensive Tips for Healthy Living

Just to be clear—we’re talking about reading the ingredient list on the back of a food can or package, not the promo on the front. As one blogger wrote, “I was at the grocery store today and had to laugh at all of the clever and deceptive food labeling on several products.”

I’ve noticed that many labels claim an item is low fat, and it may be, but when I read the back, I see that it is high in sugar and/or additives and/or salt, so it’s still not good for our bodies. Stormie Omartian writes in Greater Health God’s Way, “Our foods have been so processed and robbed of life-giving vitamins, minerals, and digestive enzymes, that they are a perversion of what God intended. Man…stripped the life out of them and added chemical preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, and synthetic vitamins.”

In a February article on The Daily Green (, Dan Shapley writes: “It’s a fact of the grocery store that the most healthy food often has the least marketing muscle behind it. The best sources of fiber and vitamins are fresh vegetables and fruit, and yet it’s the processed, packaged junk food fortified with vitamin and fiber powder that screams for attention.”

Michael F. Jacobson, PhD, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, agrees. “All told, the food industry spends about $25 billion on advertising and other forms of promotion. Only two percent of the ads are for fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans.”
Ingredients in packaged foods are listed in descending order according to amount. Take a look at your cereal box. Even brands found in the health food section often list sugar near the top of the list. This handout prepared for San Luis Obispo County, CA, parents by the University of California is a simple guide for understanding food labels:

Happy label reading! Becky


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