What’s in It?

People always ask me about the health value of certain foods they’ve bought or seen—and my question back to them is always, “What are the ingredients?”

When starting out, I advise people to check ingredient lists for high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil. If either is present, put it back on the shelf!

I think many people see those ingredients as red flags, but sometimes we don’t really bother to check the label because it doesn’t seem like a certain product would have either of those things.

Yesterday Joe brought home a loaf of bread from a bakery he stopped at in Syracuse. It was a small family-owned store that has been around for generations. The people were friendly, and it is an obvious local favorite. My instinct was to flip over the loaf of bread and read the ingredients…

The list started with flour, and somewhere in the middle it said partially hydrogenated oil…enough said. The homestyle bakery source was deceptively (possibly inadvertantly) selling people junk under the guise of artisan bread. It brings up a conflict of responsibility–whose is it? The baker or the buyer?

I think it’s both. Over the years, we’ve “voted” with our wallets by buying the crud (often not knowing what we were voting for), and as research has discovered new things about food and health, we’ve begun to reverse our voting habits. Many of us are trying to stay away from things like trans fats and refined sugar. For this bakery, I wonder how many people have to stop buying the bread before they take out the hydrogentated oil?

Joe says they probably don’t even think about it and they’ve always done it that way. Well, my grandma is like that with many of her opinions, but I don’t think that makes it less inappropriate! However, we all put up with it and ignore it because it’s been that way for so long.

Anyway, I hope more people will start voting with their wallet, and then take that to the next level by reading labels on things they normally don’t or that they would just trust based on appearance.

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