Every Monday, during a month on Researchista’s Blog you will find a new subject in which we invite one or more Researchers to talk about it. They are called “Special Guests” (because they are special and because they are guests). At the end of every subject (4th week of each month), Researchista is inviting anyone willing to explore how that topic affects their daily life. This section is called “Make-your-own-little-Research” and is encouraging everyone to make their Research (it’s called little, because is our own private investigation 😉 ), by giving an example of how to use different Research concepts and methods to investigate that subject. As a results we hope to help changing our own behaviour about a topic in selected area. This is Research on Food (industry) month on Researchista, so our little Research is going to be on this subject.
Say hello to Irina B. aka Researchista and Diana Z. aka Social activist, i-care-about-the-environment-lets-do-it-together friend! This is our little Research. What would yours be like? m?
Little Research: “How to Read Food Labels”.
How to know which ingredients are not good for your health? Research is your best friend. Let’s start by making it clear: we love food. So much. You can not imagine.
At the same time, we wonder what is healthy to eat and what is not? When we go shopping for food, are we actually buying the healthy food? This is our ‘Research question’ (a r.q. is usually stands for the aim/goal/purpose/objective of a scientific study): to what extent the food we buy is healthy? In other words, how to understand what it says on the package of content we buy.
And here we start our journey, with the help of food blogger to become and corporate activist in this area, Diana and Irina ‘willing-to-learn how to read the labels’. Let’s figure this out.
First, determine what package of food you consume often and wish to know if it contains any chemicals or unhealthy products.
Food labeling is required by law and should be clear, accurate and easy to understand and protect the consumer. It should help the consumers to know what they are buying. It is regulated by different bodies in different countries. Information required to be displayed: ingredients, weight, name of food, storage instructions, use-by-date, clear preparation and cooking instructions, name and address of manufacturer, place of origin, batch number, any genetically modified ingredients, beverages which contain >1.2% alcohol. Nutritional information is only required if there is a nutritional claim made.
Fats and sugars are contents that need extra research. If most of the fat content comes from healthy unsaturated fat, then it is a green light. If the fat is mainly saturated and/or the product has any trans-fat, it is definitely a no. Also watch out for Vegetable Oil.
Vegetable oils are manufactured in a factory, usually from genetically modified crops that have been heavily treated with pesticides. Sugar, another “watch out!”, has many names, 56 to be precise. If we notice these ingredients, besides sugar and if they come as first or second ingredient, better place this product back on the shelf.
Once we are clear on the nutrition facts, we can continue with the individual ingredients research. Unfortunately, majority of manufacturers use various sickening ingredients that we cannot even pronounce their names. I have a general rule regarding this, if I cannot read and understand it, I don’t buy it. Watch out for the sickening ingredients: growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, BPA, artificial flavors and sweeteners, dyes and conditioners, carrageenan and others.
In conclusion, Researching food products’ labels can be an overwhelming task and maybe sometimes we can end up thinking there is nothing safe left to eat, but eventually the label understanding skills become habits and the process of identifying the good food is becoming as easy as ABC.
Literature review with the courtesy of Busy Avocado and
With love for Research,
Note from Diana:
“As people are becoming more health conscious, the demands for ethical food is on the rise. By ethical we mean not only sustainable, but also ethically grown, processed, packaged and marketed. Unfortunately, we witness that many large corporations are taking ethics for granted and only care about their profit, thus maximizing production, while neglecting the nutritional value of food. Many products already enter the food chain filled with chemicals and substances that can damage our health. Later on they are processed with additives, dyes, preservatives and thickeners, and eventually packaged in materials that are also hazardous for health. But the worst part is that companies spend thousands to promote these products, create beautiful packages, advertisements and incentives. Moreover, many of them go to the extreme to portray these products as healthy and suitable for children. Stopping these companies from producing and marketing products that contain harmful ingredients is not easy. In many countries corporations have a lot of power in the food industry. But there is another way to combat them. Learn to read and understand labels and avoid products that are clearly damaging your health. “