As part of my current SP challenge, I've been doing some serious label-reading. I've been a label-reader for years so I didn't think there'd be much to discover. However, I decided to take the challenge to a new level and find out what the labels in certain foods actually means.
Yesterday, I read cereal labels. Okay, I was seriously shocked at how many ingredients are in what I thought was healthy eating. We only buy high-fiber, "healthy" cereals. But, I read somewhere that any food with 5 or more ingredients is a processed food. Well, I was amazed at the number of ingredients in cereal, including words I couldn't spell. Never a good sign.
Dr. Oz said that we should avoid foods with sugar in the first 5 ingredients. Again, I was shocked at how many "healthy" cereals had sugar listed in their top 5 ingredients, another warning sign.
So, I took my label reading a step further and did some research on the history of cereal. I found the best best summary of my findings in the following article, which is primarily derived from Felicity Lawrence's book, "Eat Your Heart Out":
Essentially, the article says, yes, cereal is highly processed. In fact, that's why it was developed: To create a packaged and ready-to-eat, highly marketed breakfast product whose primary value is its ability to line the pockets of its manufacturers. Sales of cereal have increased every year since its introduction in the early 1900s. Wow.
One of the most fascinating parts of this article is where it talks about our modern technology's ability to fortify cereals with ingredients lost during processing. However, this process creates a chemical, "Acrylamide", that in 2006 was found to be directly linked to cancer in humans. Yikes!
So, I've learned a lot, especially about my own mistaken beliefs around foods. Marketing really impacts us; it's hard to remember to put on my thinking cap and ask myself, "Is this really good for me, just because it's packaged to sound that way?"
Next question: What will I have for breakfast today??