Why I recheck labels

Almonds Label

Of course it’s always important to check your labels. It’s best to find out what’s really inside your packaged food and then ask yourself “Do I really want those ingredients in my body?” Take a look at the above label, for example: The front of the package says Smoked Almonds, but the list of ingredients on the back has much more to reveal. Not just almonds, but canola and safflower oil, processed corn and soy, and loads of salt—not a package of almonds that I’d personally choose.

But it’s also important to recheck labels from time to time to ensure things haven’t changed—for the worse that is. Sometimes new, poorer quality or less desirable ingredients get added in place of a preferred ingredient. Ingredients like wheat, diary, corn, and soy (all going by various different names), or any of the vegetable oils, or all sorts of other preservatives or additives may suddenly show up in a food where they hadn’t previously been.

For instance, a certain cracker line that I’d come to enjoy, had all of a sudden changed from using 100% spelt, to also adding regular whole wheat (in addition to the spelt), into one of its products. It also now had soy oil in it. I had planned to include it on the list of recommended items for those “too busy to cook days” in my healthy weight-loss book, but I discovered this ingredient switch in the nick of time. I removed the cracker from the list and searched the natural food stores for a suitable replacement. (The majority of the products on the list were to be free of conventional wheat.)

I’ve since found yet another wholesome cracker product which I’ll happily recommend: Doctor Kracker’s Seedlander Snackers or Seeded Spelt Crispbread. All goodness—no worrisome ingredients.

.spelt crispbreat

Some body and beauty products will also have ingredient changes after a while on the market. Almost every time I discover a new hand or body lotion with an impressive ingredient list, it turns to disappointment before long—and I’m talking about products found in natural foods stores. Believe it or not, finding personal care products that aren’t going to do you more harm than good is not as easy as one might hope.

What often happens is that the good quality ingredients which were previously listed at the beginning of the ingredient list (the list runs from highest to lowest in terms of quantity), eventually get moved further down the list. While the poorer quality items—or at least the ones you’d prefer to do without—will have moved closer to the top of the listed ingredients.

When these things happen with food or with anything else that will be absorbed into my skin or bloodstream, I choose to find another product instead, preferably in a reasonable price range.

The main reason that companies tend to change some of their ingredients for those of cheaper, poorer quality, is generally about profit. Sometimes this change occurs when a smaller scale company producing good quality products is sold to a large company with a different agenda. I’ve not found any products that have suddenly sneakily started using superior ingredients. When a company improves a product, they usually widely advertise that they’ve done so. They may decide to quietly discontinue use of an increasingly unpopular ingredient that’s begun getting bad press, while being sure to boldly announce the addition of a new healthy ingredient that’s gaining consumer popularity and good press. Often companies leave the poor quality ingredients in, but try to win consumers over by adding and drawing attention to a hot topic item like ‘quinoa’ or whatever the current craze ingredient may be. That’s why it’s so important to become an informed label reader.

Whatever you’re purchasing, it’s good to also be aware that although a product costs more, it doesn’t always mean the ingredients are necessarily superior. Bear in mind though, if you want a good quality product, it’s not likely to be the least expensive.

While it is common for certain companies to choose profit over health, fortunately many other companies are consistently, unwaveringly dedicated to quality first.

A few food companies whose products I recommend are:

Eden Foods
Pacific Foods
Amy’s Kitchen
Nature’s Path
Food for Life

Recommeded personal care products (skin care, body care, hair care):

Dessert Essence

Note: The products listed above are widely available, but there are also many other quality packaged foods and products, that are produced by local and smaller scale companies in your area, available in your local natural-food stores or farmer’s markets.