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Monday, May 30, 2016

Why shouldn’t we know?


Laura spent the weekend with a girlfriend, swimming in the pool and eating her way through a kitchen of snacks. She could eat her weight in sugar weekly, left to her own devices, and knowing what would happen, we stopped to buy a bag of snacks on the way.

I waited at the checkout and in a bit she appeared with an armful. I saw a bag of cashews dangling between two fingers, but the rest was blocks of processed and prepackaged. “I got healthy granola bars,” she announced. I turned it around to “nutritional information,” and pointed out 12 grams of sugar.

“Divide that by four grams per teaspoon and you are swallowing three teaspoons of sugar per bar.” She shrugged; I bought the lot, and she had a wonderful weekend.

Last week I listened to three folks I know, in a bitter discussion of regulations. One owns a food distribution company. It services vending machines, for instance. Apparently the machines must now display the nutritional content of every product in the machine.

“Why not?” the damn bleeding heart liberal dropped into the conversation. “Why not!” sputtered the right of red conservative food distribution company owner. “It will cost too much!”

And there you have it. As a population, we have fallen for convenience. Insidiously, since the Great War ended, convenience has consumed us. We, down here at the very bottom of the chain of distribution, have sent our dollars up the food chain in order to shoot bullets of salt, sugar, fat and unknown chemicals down our throats.

If processed food were not available, we could not buy it. Parents would buy carrots and celery at the grocery store, teach the children how to clean them and carry them for a snack. That’s not an oversimplification. There is no reason people should not spend the time on life’s basics as on, for instance, soccer games and texting.

I am quite fond of the fellow who must spend big bucks telling consumers what he is selling them. However, we are years and years beyond laissz faire. I don’t think this man has grown rich from his business. I do think he’s invested a life time in his business, and I also think people should know the ingredients of their food purchases.

He could lobby the food industry to print the labels large enough to be read through the fronts of vending machines. Then the only expense would be wiping down nose prints.



Unnamed granola bar label


31 comments:

  1. Thats a lot of bloody potassium !

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  2. My reaction too, the amount of potassium and sodium was far worse than the sugar. I don't think labeling food by it's parts and calorie count slow people down one bit. They figure they'll drink a quart of Diet Coke and it will all equal out.

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    1. The sugar is GRAMS, the sodium and potassium is MICRO grams, (milli?) you'd have to figure out what that is in full grams to be sure.

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  3. Hari OM
    There's something in the air tonight... I just had a lengthy email to-fro with another blogger about food labeling - albeit in her case, for pets - but the issues are the same regardless... No country in the world has adequate labeling for the amount of stuff that gets loaded into our food. The other thing which gets bandied about and ranted over is the "Made in [name your country]" - which in US, OZ, UK only requires that the ingredients are assembled in country and does NOT necessarily admit to the source of said ingredients... although in OZ, that has been addressed in part by a new reg on the need to state 'made from Australian and non-Australian ingredients' - which tells nothing of real value. There are some real howlers... what I notice about this label you have shown is that all the RDI for the 'nutrients' are given - except for the sugars! ... maybe a few carrots and celery plants could arrive in the garden soon? &*> Nothing we liked more as kids than being asked to go pick the fruit and veg; we were usually full by the time we got back indoors!!! YAM xx

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  4. I totally agree with complete transparency so the consumer knows what they are consuming. Just as I'm completely in favour of knowing which our foods have been genetically modified.

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  5. I like to know what is in my food. And (mostly) stay away from the convenience food in favour of taste. I don't like eating nameless numbers either...

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  6. Just put up a sign that says if the food is processed, it is probably not healthy. If he is required to display the ingredients and nutritional value, the customer should have to sign off that they have read the ingredients much like at a pharmacy because few people read these things, and the processors trick you by listing "per serving" when a serving is usually a bite or two.

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  7. I think we should also be told what chemicals are added to the soil where our fruit and vegetables grow. What is absorbed into the raw food we do eat?

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  8. But that bar has so much fiber and protein in it!! :)

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  9. 45 g of carbonates! Reading a label on Progresso "healthy" soup, I discover all sorts of additives: immense amount of sodium, more sodium, nitrates, hydrogenated yeast extract, mono sodium glutamate... These chemical/natural additives are grand migraine instigators. What happens when shoppers don't check these things?

    Excellent, Joanne! Well said.

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  10. I'd read somewhere that energy bars were a sure way to gain weight. We for two need to know what the heck we're eating.

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  11. I'm concerned at the vitamin contents listed on so many processed foods. Processing most often involves some kind of heat, cooking, baking, whatever and many vitamins are destroyed this way. If I was wanting more vitamins in my diet, I'd be eating fresh, raw fruits and those vegetables that are able to be eaten raw, like celery, carrots, peas and beans fresh picked as I wander through the garden beds. (That part doesn't happen anymore, no veggies growing here). Incidentally, I read once that carrots are one of the few veggies better assimilated in the body when cooked rather than eaten raw.
    Still, one weekend of a sugar high won't do any harm. I'd be more concerned if Laura chose to eat like that more often.

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  12. I decided years ago that if I am buying something from a vending machine it is probably not good for me. But sometimes it is just what I am needing!

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  13. I think that is why there is such a push for "clean eating" without processed foods; healthier for you, yet I'm guilty of eating lots I shouldn't.

    betty

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  14. And now the FDA wants all the labels changed! I think if we ate more the way we did when we were children a great many things would change. Food allergies were almost unheard of. Eating carbs was desired as part of a healthy diet. Diabetes was known but not prevalent. Remember when we were to eat proteins, carbohydrates, fats, green leafy vegetables, and other vegetables every day? Bread and butter was served at every meal. Many meals consisted of fried foods. Sugar was a treat. And we were not fat either. It's the processing they use in foods that make us unhealthy.

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  15. I absolutely agree. I would also really appreciate it if restaurants printed the nutritional info on their menus.

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  16. I once read the ingredients on a pack of bologna...I still have emotional scars

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    1. I once read the ingredients in a sandwich I bought. One ingredient was Jumbo. Before I could throw it away, a local explained that's what they call bologna in Pittsburgh.

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  17. Buyer beware. I have eaten healthy most of my life, but the last ten years, not so much. Convenience and not being responsible for other people has drawn me to processed foods. Lately though, because I am not feeling well, I have been reading the labels and tried to stick to foods that contain things that I can pronounce. Better living is not thru chemicals.

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  18. The labeling responsibility should be placed on the producers...not the chap with the vending machines. They should send out appropriate stickers with his order.

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    1. Or, display the products back to front and let customers read through the glass.

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  19. I did not buy sugary cereals or soda or candy or processed foods when raising my kids. the first time my daughter ate one of those sugary cereals, she threw up. when the grandkids started coming out here for their weeks in the summer 7 years ago and we would go to the grocery store, they would pick something and I would read the labels and then we would put it back. I refused to buy stuff that wasn't food. Now, the twins, at least, are very food conscious. their brother doesn't care. he drinks so much mountain dew and sweet tea I'm surprised he has any teeth left. the youngest at 15 still wants snack food.

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  20. oh but as far as the labeling on the vending machines is concerned, I think that's silly as the items inside are labeled and I doubt anyone buying anything from a vending machine is interested in food content, however, how expensive can it be to get labels printed on stickers and slap them on the machine. stickers are cheap. but you are right about convenience and our culture. we are one lazy bunch of people. no wonder we are so fat and not just from our food. all those labor saving devices. it was that labor that worked off the calories in the food unadulterated food we ate.

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  21. Interesting comments and a most interesting essay. Well done,I say. Amazes me that people still do not read labels. I recall when I discovered how worthless and bad granola bars were. Trying to eat fresh local foods and what is in season seems to be a good path to follow. Have also read that if something contains more than five ingredients on the label, put it back on the shelf. Also, sugar is labeled under many different names. Sad state of affairs our food.

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  22. The farmer and I always try to eat healthily Joanne. But when I see what our local schoolchildren eat at lunchtime (they come out of school, walk a few hundred yards into town and eat chocolate bars, crisps, fizzy drinks and crisps.

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  23. I know what you mean about hidden sugar not to mention saturated fat. Most young folks are not aware of what they are eating.

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  24. I cook 90% of our meals but don't do cakes or biscuits so we buy ready make ones, they do have a lot of sugar but I'm getting old so a bit of sugar will not hurt too much.
    When sitting people watching I noticed so many overweight young people is this the food they are eating or no exercise or a bit of both.
    Merle.........

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  25. Trying hard to be a healthy eater, but sodium and sugar are insidious in any convenience item. I'm continually shocked when I read the labels.

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  26. How did it taste? Does anyone really eat "health" bars for their health?

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  27. Processed food isn't good for you, but if it's part of a balanced diet and not the only thing you eat, it's not going to do any real harm.

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