"Pure"-ly Pathetic Nutrition!

I consider myself to be pretty nutritionally savvy..... I follow a Paleo style of eating, I read labels.... I rarely get tricked by false statements on containers. Heck, I rarely eat anything out of a container! So, Imagine my surprise this past weekend when I realized I had never read the side of my "PURE" Unsweetened Almond Milk container. That's right, PURE! Locust Bean Gum? Carrrageenan? What happened to Almonds, water, maybe a little vanilla? A quick google search of carrageenan produced this fun tidbit:

"Based on research showing that it leads to colon cancer in laboratory animals, the International Agency for Research on Cancer recognizes degraded carrageenan as a "possible human carcinogen" and organizations such as the Cournucopia Institute are calling for it to be withdrawn from inclusion among acceptable ingredients in organic foods by the USDA.[20] A study published in 2006 indicates that carrageenan induces inflammation in human intestinal epithelial cells in tissue culture through a BCL10-mediated pathway that leads to activation of NFkappaB and IL-8.[21] Carrageenan may be immunogenic due to its unusual alpha-1,3-galactosidic link, which is part of its disaccharide unit structure. Consumption of carrageenan may have a role in intestinal inflammation and possibly, inflammatory bowel disease, since BCL10 resembles NOD2, mutations of which are associated with genetic proclivity to Crohn's Disease."

Whoa. And that's just one of the ingredients on the list...

I have no idea why I have never read this particular label. I guess I saw the word "Pure" and just assumed I was good to go? But, I know this. Whatever the reason is that I didn't read that label, it is a sad, sad realization that our Food Industry in America is given so much freedom and so much tendency towards misleading information, false statements, and incomplete truths! Highly sugared cereals are labeled "Heart Healthy" and yogurts sweetened with chemicals are advertised as "part of a nutritious diet"! Yet, the orange, spinach, sweet potato and green beans sit sad and lonely at the other end of the supermarket.

So, how is one to conquer the grocery store? Do we all have to have Master's Degrees in label reading or a Sherlock Holmes hat and magnifying glass to be a label sleuth? I would like to say no, but it seems that in the current food-made-in-a-lab-is-better-than-food-that-happens-naturally, that may not be far from the truth. Perhaps, I can help a bit, however, if you are willing to forgive my recent oversite...

Here are few things to remember when looking at the labels on the food you are about to buy. And yes, reading the actual label is the ONLY option here.

* First, skip right past the big white box with the calories and fat and sugars and all that stuff. Read the INGREDIENTS list before you do anything else! If you can't pronounce a word, or don't know what something is, or if it has sugar of any type as one of the first ingredients, PUT IT BACK!

* Ignore any and all "claims" on the package. These claims are there to grab your attention and keep you from reading the ingredients list. Remember, "PURE" Almond Milk? The only exception to this rule would be on the meats and eggs that you purchase. In that case, try for mostly "Grass-Fed" or "Free-Range".... not "Natural", not "Cage Free", not "vegetarin fed".

* In reality, if it's sold in a box, bag, or some other packaging, chances are really good that it is crap. It is sad, but true, my friends. Try to eliminate these foods from your diet as much as possible. Sure there are exceptions, quality eggs, good meats, raw nuts, some frozen veggies here and there... but you're smart enough to read those labels ;-)

Here's hoping your next grocery trip proves you are smarter than the box!