Grocery Shopping Secrets

By Steven Gillman

Do you read the labels when you choose your food? Do you think you understand what they really mean? You may have to change your thinking. Here are some of the grocery shopping secrets you need to know.

Grocery Shopping Secrets - Lying Labels

Read labels much and you'll notice that almost all packaged products have hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil in them. This is the stuff scientists give to mice to cause heart disease when they want to study that disease! The good news is that, due to consumer demand, some brands have stopped using it in some of their products. The bad news is that it is still in well over half of all packaged grocery products.

Look at those labels when you're grocery shopping, and you'll also see that sugar is showing up in almost everything. It is even added to most brands of kidney beans, which used to be packed in just water and salt. Why add sugar? Two reasons. The first is simply that our taste buds have come to crave sweetness. This, however, doesn't explain why it is in things like kidney beans. That is a bigger secret.

Sugar is added to kidney beans, peanut butter and many other products that don't need it for taste because these are convenient places to dump it. You see, sugar is cheap - cheaper than the other ingredients. Government subsidies have helped produce so much cheap sugar that growers need to dump it into as many products as they can. This works well for the makers of food products. More sugar and less of the more expensive peanuts in that peanut butter means more profit.

Here an even nastier secret: Manufacturers are lying about the amount of sugar they put in their products. You may be aware that they have to list the ingredients on the label in order, according to how much of each their is. What if they have a product that has more sugar than anything else? They don't want it at the top of the list where everyone can see that it is the primary ingredient, right?

This is how they hide it: They put three types of sugar into the product, so that no one of them is a larger amount than whatever "healthy" ingredient they want to appear at the top of the list. For example, suppose you read on that juice bottle label, "cranberry juice, corn syrup, sugar, high fructose corn syrup and vitamin C."

It looks like the primary ingredient is just natural juice. Perhaps the real story is: 27% juice, 25% corn syrup, 24% sugar, 23 % high fructose corn syrup, 1% Vitamin C. The three types of sugar add up to 72% of the entire bottle's contents! This little trick is becoming depressingly common.

Think you are buying whole wheat products? Whole wheat bread is only whole wheat if it says 100% whole wheat. In fact, even then you should look closer. It might actually say, "Contains 100% whole wheat," which just means they at least threw one wheat grain in there.

"Wheat bread," "wheat flour," "unbleached wheat flour," and "wheat," all just mean some variety of processed white flour that originated from wheat grain. "Wheat" bread is usually nothing more than white bread with enough whole grain thrown in to color it. "Wheat blend" pasta is the latest trick to make you think you're buying whole wheat. It is again just white flour (always the first ingredient, if you look on the label) with enough whole wheat "blended" in to let you feel you are buying a healthier food, so they can charge more.

Here is one more grocery shopping secret or those who want healthier fruits and vegetables. Most frozen fruits and vegetables, when tested against "fresh" fruits and vegetables, have more vitamin content. Why? The flash-freezing that is done shortly after they are picked, preserves the vitamins. "Fresh" fruits and vegetables are in trucks for days, exposed to heat and air, then sit at the grocery store for days,and finally in your refrigerator for days. They lose much of their vitamin content as a result of this treatment. Frozen fruits and veggies can be healthier, and they are even cheaper at times, like when the particular fruit or vegetable isn't in season.