We all know by now that we should be reading labels on any packaged food we buy. And we even know what to look for and avoid. By now we know to stay away from high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, or any ingredient whose name we can’t pronounce. But what if the label doesn’t have those scary ingredients listed, or things that we don’t even think are necessary to check labels for (who reads the label on spices? Is there even a label on spices?)?
Yes, sadly it’s true. Food labels lie. Or creatively sidestep the truth. For example did you know:
When you buy salt and pepper in those little shaker packs, you’re not just getting “salt” and “pepper”? You’re getting anti-caking agents, sugar, other seasonings, and filler? Buy kosher or sea salt and get a pepper grinder and grind your own pepper corns. Look at labels.
Same thing for seasonings, especially blends. Buy high quality seasonings, and look out for artificial flavorings, anti-caking agents and other things you just don’t want. You can make your own seasoning blends at home with spices in your cupboards.
When buying cereals and products with blueberries and other fruit, you may be surprised to find none of the actual fruit in the name or on the box. In many cereals labeled “blueberry”, there are actually no blueberries. Instead you get dried pieces of blueberry flavored by products. Instead of relying on these kinds of products to get your fruit intake up, buy high fiber cereals such as oats and add your own fresh or frozen fruit. Never rely on pictures or names of products to tell you what is in something, always read the label yourself.
Perhaps the most surprising, when you buy orange juice, which is often labeled as 100 percent fresh squeezed juice is actually juice that has all the nutrients and flavor removed and then added back in to make it shelf stable. So what you’re getting is technically “juice” but it’s got lab created flavor, color (if you’ve never had freshly squeezed orange juice, it is nowhere near that bright orange color), and aroma along with it. Remember, fresh fruit is always a better choice than juice.
Flour is made in a similar way. White flour is wheat that has everything good removed, and then added again or “enriched”. It’s also most often bleached as well to make bread whiter. Do yourself a favor: Spring for the extra buck or two and buy unbleached and unbromated flour. Your body will thank you.
Bottom line: Everything is not what it seems. Don’t rely on food manufacturers whose best interest in only in their pocketbooks to tell you the truth about what you’re eating. Buy fresh, whole food and make everything that you can from scratch. Read labels on EVERYTHING, even if it seems unimportant, and if something seems something might be off (such as the orange juice example above), it probably is, and you should avoid it.