Let me put this out there front and center.
I have NOT seen Food Inc.
I HAVE read Skinny Bitch.
I like to eat McDonald’s once in a while (and yes, I saw Supersize Me). I enjoy the luxury of convenience foods when I don’t feel like cooking. I don’t like to spend a lot of money at the grocery store. I like cheap meats and produce.
And herein lies my problem.
Anytime I go to the store, I’m plagued by the health vs. nutrition vs. cost quandary with practically every product I select.
For example, I go to buy ketchup but I have to be careful because ketchup can have a lot of sugar. I like Hunt’s mainly because of the taste but also because it clearly says on the label “No High Fructose Corn Syrup.” When I was shopping with my husband recently, he told me to make sure I picked the right one. I told him that Hunt’s doesn’t use high fructose corn syrup but the truth of the matter is THEY DO. Some bottles are made with high fructose corn syrup. And those that are labeled “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” actually use sugar instead. BUT YOU HAVE TO KNOW THAT THEY SELL BOTH KINDS.
Why? If they can make a healthier version with no high fructose corn syrup, why both making one with it anyway?
And then there’s Kashi. I love Kashi cereals. I can’t say I’ve ever gone lean with the Go Lean cereals but I feel good eating something healthy for breakfast with good taste and low sugar. And then it turns out that Kashi was using genetically modified soy in their “natural” cereals. As a rule, I try to eat foods with their original genes intact, thank you very much.
How about pudding? I’m not a regular pudding shopper but every once in a while, I’d like a cup of vanilla pudding. Or maybe I want to go a little wild and get some tapioca pudding. So I pick up the old stand-by from my childhood, Jell-O Tapioca Pudding Snacks. And I look at the ingredient list:
Ingredients: SKIM MILK, WATER, SUGAR, TAPIOCA, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, CONTAINS LESS THAN 1.5% OF HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (COCONUT AND PALM KERNEL OILS), SALT, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE (FOR SMOOTH TEXTURE), SODIUM ALGINATE, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SOY LECITHIN, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, YELLOW 5, YELLOW 6, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, VITAMIN D.
I mean, is that normal for pudding? Is that simply the price I pay for pre-made, off-the-shelf pudding?
Then I pick up Kozy Shack Tapioca Pudding and actually see ingredients I recognize:
Ingredients: low fat milk, sugar, tapioca, egg whites, modified tapioca starch, natural flavors, salt, annatto (color)
There. Was that so hard?
I was shopping last night for ice cream and had the same issue. Milk, milk powder, nonfat milk powder, and a bunch of other chemicals. I’m getting in the habit of not even paying attention to nutrition anymore. I just want to trust what I eat. I go for the ingredients. Unfortunately, the only ice cream that passed my recognizable ingredients list was Breyer’s. And it came in a much smaller container at a much higher price. Not fair.
And finally, what really set this rant is motion is my latest purchase that made me feel completely duped.
I generally stay away from soda. I’ll occasionally have a Diet Coke and feel guilty for drinking it so I try to stay away from things with ingredients I can’t pronounce (McDonald’s, aside, of course). So I decided to give this new drink a try from Seagram’s. I picked up Sparkling Seltzer Water with Orange Citrus flavor. It didn’t taste artificial. It was light and refreshing and had a simple ingredient list: carbonated water, natural flavors.
So when I recently hauled myself up to the nearest BJ’s, I thought I’d look for the Seagram’s Seltzer Water to buy in bulk. Not available but I did see what I thought was an acceptable substitute. I brought it home, took a sip, and thought it was horrifically sweet. I wasn’t worried though because the bottle said “naturally flavored.” I thought maybe I didn’t like the mandarin orange flavor. My husband tried the lime flavor and had the same reaction.
That’s when he pointed me to the label and it was confirmed. The ingredients listed carbonated water, citric acid, natural flavor, sucralose, potassium benzoate, acesulfame potassium.
Yeah. That sounds like a lot more than sparkling water to me. In fact, after re-reading the label, I saw that I had purchased Sparkling Water Beverage, which I’m assuming has the same implications as Fruit Juice Drink.
Translation: Sweetener. And in the case of the BJ’s water, it’s sucralose. Also known as Splenda. That’s not what I planned to buy. And by the time you read this, I’ll be on my way to the store to return it.
And don’t even get me started on Canola Oil. Ever thought about where it comes from? The Canola plant? Think again. Or better yet, read this pretty comprehensive piece on canola oil a friend from Facebook pointed me to.
I’m frustrated and tired of being frustrated. I’m a typical American. I like to eat cheaply and value convenience and taste. I don’t want to have to think. I want an FDA that looks out for what is for the good of the people. I want to go to the grocery store and not be afraid anymore.
I still refuse to become a food nazi. But I am a reader and will keep doing so until I don’t feel duped anymore.