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Friday Food Rant! : Why It’s SO Important to Read Food Labels

Posted Nov 06 2009 12:00am
Happy Friday guys! I want to introduce you to another new feature here on Karina Works It Out: The Friday Food Rant! I think it’s absolutely necessary, ‘cause navigating the local grocery store is like skipping around (unknowingly) in a field that’s been booby-trapped. (Can you tell I spent way too many hours watching Looney Tunes as a kid?) But seriously, we should help each other out! I’ll let you know about the pitfalls/hidden treasures I come across during my shopping escapades, and you do the same!

This week, I’m a little worked up about nutrition labels. I made the fatal mistake of going food shopping late last Saturday afternoon. Everybody and their mother (including me and my mother!) was out buying their weekly victuals, which meant utter chaos in the lanes. Ugh.

What was going to be a 20-minute pit stop for some essentials turned out to be a three-hour ordeal. It didn’t help that we came without a list. (Fatal Mistake no. 2) And my mother and I were hungry to top things off. (Fatal Mistake no. 3!!!)

We bought a few items without reading labels that I really regret. First, take a look at these beautiful jars of Dickinson’s apple butter and pumpkin butter.

Lovely, right? Even more lovely is the fact that they were on sale for $1.99 a piece. But it’s all packaging, folks. I normally buy these two breakfast staples (a great low-cal alternative to jam for mixing into plain yogurt or spreading on toast) at Trader Joe’s, (they have a great cranberry apple butter nowadays) but we ran out, and a trip to faraway TJ’s was nowhere in sight. So I bought these instead.

I popped open the pumpkin butter as soon as I got home (was starving, remember?) and it tasted like metal. I had forgotten to read the label in the midst of all that madness. BAD idea! Check out the ingredients: PUMPKIN, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, SALT, CITRIC ACID, GINGER, NATURAL FLAVORS. Gross. And the apple butter isn’t much better.

I usually look at food labels for calories, fat and fiber content first. But I also try to avoid corn syrup and processed ingredients as much as possible. (If you’re wondering why I’m concerned—check out what the Mayo Clinic has to say about it – they offer a pretty objective viewpoint here .)

Now I'm stuck with two jars full of artificial sugar. Guess I’ll be more vigilant next time. Sigh.

How about you? Do you read food labels closely? What’s the first thing you look out for--fat, fiber, sugar, sodium? And do you avoid corn syrup too, or do you think it’s all hype? Discuss!

PS – If you love apple butter as much as I do, and are a fan of canning, check out this homemade recipe over at Runner’s Kitchen!

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