New Year, New Labels

With the new year often comes New Year’s resolutions.  What are the most common resolutions? Exercise more, lose weight and eat healthier are often the frontrunners. Just how does one eat healthier?  I say by reading the labels and, as one of our classroom presenters Toni teaches, eat as close to the farm as possible.  I love that saying!  If you can choose between an apple, an apple granola bar or an apple nutri-grain bar, pick the apple.  If the apple isn’t available, read the labels on your other choices.  We hear it now and we’re going to hear it a lot more as the new labels appear on packages this year. 

You’d think it would be a great choice just to pick a product by its name, but that’s not always the case.  There’s been a huge surge in branding with many items containing names to suggest they are the perfect choice (which some may be).  Nature Made Vitamins, Earthbound Greens, Skinny Cow, Country Fresh, Happy Eggs (can an egg really be happy?), Happy Farms, KIND bars and then there are all the “natural” and “healthy” names on thousands of foods. 

As you peruse the grocery ads each week and walk up and down the aisles at your store, pay attention to the label and see if the product ingredients and nutritional information coincides with the name. The new labels provide information on Vitamin D vs. Vitamin A, include separate information on added sugars, and change the definition of serving sizes.

By law, serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously 1/2 cup but is changing to 2/3 cup. The reference amount used to set a serving of soda is changing from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.  

The labeling topic is quite complex and can’t be given justice here, but I encourage you delve further as you try to accomplish your New Year’s resolutions regarding food choices.  If your resolution is to eat healthier, start reading your labels.  The choice you think is the best may not truly be the best once you become a more informed consumer.