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Welcome to Green Gal's blog, where you'll find stories, recipes, gardening updates, and green tips related to nature, adventure, placemaking, and food systems. This blog is written by a young woman entrepreneur who is also a beginning farmer-gardener and seasoned sustainability educator who loves to grow, cook, ferment, and eat local and ecologically happy food.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What I've learned so far: Reading labels

This month, I've been trying to keep track of the foods I eat, where it comes from, whether its organic and what the ingredients are.

The first few days I was successful and logged everything, but I became less diligent and got behind. For most packaged products I've at least read the entire label and made a mental note of what comes from where.

Some things I've learned so far:

The olive oil that my family typically uses comes from Trader Joes and it's organic, but it's made in Spain. So this Saturday, I suggested to my mom that we buy some olive oil at the Farmers' Market. So we did! Now our olive oil is from Modesto, not Spain.

The Trio fruit, seed and nut bars that my mom loves are produced in China! The "Product of China" bit is difficult to see on the wrapper, and there's a mention of California, as that is where the company is based. It's definitely not where the bar is produced however, and there is no mention of China on their website. Quite misleading. Upset by this, my mom searched online and found a plethora of complaints about the bar's origins. The sesame seeds and rice malt they use in the bars comes from China, their cashews are from Vietnam, and the rest is from the U.S. My mom read this article about it in which they interviewed the president and what my mom remembers most is him saying that his goal is to become a competitor of Frito-Lays. I don't want to be eating food that is made by a company whose main purpose is competition, when there should be a certain level of regard for what's best for the people eating the food. I want my food to be beneficial, not some avenue by which a company can become a major competitor in the food industry. We will not be buying the company's products anymore. I'm sure the food is relatively safe and whatnot, but I don't like the idea of it, especially the amount of shipping it takes to get that bar into my hands.

My favorite Beckmann's Old World Bakery bread comes from Santa Cruz, only about 56 miles from where I live. It's so delicious--and wholesome!

The Earth Balance and Smart Balance Organic buttery spreads I use in place of butter (since I'm vegan & allergic to dairy!) both come from New Jersey. There's really not a great way to get around this long distance, considering few companies make quality "fake butter." My mom said she used to just use olive oil. I think I would definitely miss butter on my toast in the mornings, although I do enjoy potatoes by themselves and wouldn't miss butter on them. I will try olive oil and see how it works!

Trader Joes has a habit of putting "Monrovia, California" and letting me try to guess where the ingredients themselves came from.

Hohos aren't as good as I thought they were. I hardly EVER eat junk food (not to mention totally un-vegan food!) like that, but it was an 11:30 PM decision to buy them while at Safeway. My dad and I each had one. Not as satisfying as I had remembered...

I became reaquainted with my love for grape juice. It is delicious.

I am so fortunate to live in California, where most of the vegetables and fruits at the store are from California.


I created a new blog for you plant-lovers: Rooted.

Green Gal

---

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
-- George Washington Carver

3 comments:

  1. Your post has me thinking more carefully about what I eat. When we regularly purchase certain foods, we vote with our dollars about what foods we want companies to produce--and we also vote for which companies we want to support.

    The occasional bite into junk food such as a Hoho is, I think, always a good reminder how unflavorful those foods are, and such an exercise makes me feel certain that I'm not missing anything by skipping those foods in my usual, ongoing diet. Of course, every couple years I get curious what they taste like and buy another such item, then I go through the cycle again.

    This reminds me of a food critic's comment that when he goes to a restaurant, he will order dessert and take one bite. This way he can sample the dessert without taking in all the calories, and since he has to pay for the cost whether he eats it or not, he chooses not to eat it.

    From my perspective, not eating dessert you paid for doesn't "go to waste" because going through our digestive systems just means our bodies have to process all the sugar and dispose of it eventually, so it gets into our waste stream one way or the other.

    Thanks for your thought-provoking posts, Green Gal!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am so impressed with your dedication to reading labels .. and making changes as you learn the origins and health benefits (or lack thereof) of foods. And ... as you are showing us ... there are healthy, local alternatives. Brilliant!

    Thanks for all you are doing!

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  3. We've just been watching a show on DVD called AlterEco and it has me feeling just a titch envious of anyone local food lovers living in California - it looks so much easier to get great local goodies year round.

    ReplyDelete

I love reading comments and am always up for a discussion! Thank you!

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