The Importance of Being Labeled
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
The other night I made a meatloaf for dinner. It wasn't the healthiest recipe because I used ground beef, not even lean ground beef, but I am rather new to this healthier lifestyle and I had it in the freezer and beef is too expensive for me to just throw out. But I made it and my one point of pride was that I used whole wheat breadcrumbs. The box even said 100 percent whole wheat on it. So yay for me. Right?
Then I read the label.
The first four ingredients in my "100 Percent Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs" were: whole wheat breadcrumbs, sugar, corn syrup and molasses!!! The second, third and fourth weightiest ingredients in this stuff are sugar?! Why do breadcrumbs even need sugar in them?
You would think I'd know better than to not read the label carefully. I have a teaching certification in English and I actually taught seventh and eighth grade English when I started my career. I've worked and volunteered in literacy programs for 30+ years, and my specialties are reading and writing. I've even taught lesson plans for adult literacy on reading and shopping, which included label reading. (This is where I slap my hand to my forehead and let out a big old "Duh.")
The front of any food package can be insidious. It can say Natural, Healthy, and yes even 100 Percent Whole Wheat. But the point of the front of the package, I must remember always, is not to help me on my journey to better health, but to sell me a product. It's the back (or side or bottom) of that package, where the nutritional info is located, that matters, And if I'm not ever vigilant about reading those labels, who knows how much sugar or fat or chemicals or who knows what I am putting in my body.
Next week I am making meatloaf again. This time it'll be with ground turkey and I'll use quick cooking oats as a binder. I'm sure it'll be just as good as the other meatloaf and way better for me. And from now on, when I make my groceries list, I'm writing "Read the label" at the top of it. Every time.