By Allie DeLay
A week ago, I walked into Verizon store and I swear I must’ve had “sucker” stamped across my forehead. After the battery on my Droid decided to kick the bucket, managers encouraged me to use my upgrade. Despite the abysmal state that my bank account is in, seeing as how I’m entering the home stretch of my poverty stricken undergraduate college days, I couldn’t resist the beauty that is the iPhone 5. After years of being a phone outcast, sticking to my Samsung Alias while my friends all BBM’d each other or seeing little squares instead of emojis, the second my fingers touched the glossy screen, I knew I’d be hooked. And sure enough within hours I was updating contacts, setting notification sounds, and downloading apps.
As if some higher power knew, I’d fall in love, I found the Fooducate App. Now apparently, I am some three years behind the times (since that’s how long my lovely Aunt Marianne has been using this app) but I cannot get over how informative and amazing this program is. Literally, if you’ve run into me on campus this past week, you’ve probably had to sit through some pathetic tutorial where I just smile at the screen and shake my phone, looking up nutrition information on random products. And honestly if I had any shame I may apologize, but that’s the thing I don’t. I AM OBSESSED!
For the beginning of this week, I was back home in New York, taking a little mini-vacation and while I was home, I decided what better way to harass my family then to scan everything they were eating in the kitchen and point out what was wrong. When I scanned my brother’s beloved Fruit Roll Ups, I wasn’t surprised to see a personalized grade D rating because the product was highly processed and contained artificial colors.
However, I think I could’ve used some assistance peeling my jaw up off the ground when I read that Special K Chocolatey Delight was rated a “personalized C-“. For months, on days when I wasn’t feeling like making eggs or Kashi Go Lean Crunch (which the jury is still out on) wasn’t making the cut, I’d pour myself a bowl of this cereal and dig in. Granted I knew there was chocolate in it, so it obviously wasn’t every dieter’s dream, but I couldn’t imagine the nutrition information that Fooducate would enlighten me with. After all it is a Special K product!
Special K Chocolatey Delight has a High GMO probability, which isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world. But, if you are someone that prefers ingredients in your food that aren’t processed, then this may not be your ideal choice. It is a highly processed serial, but so is really any product that contains more than ten ingredients (which is actually a good way to think about your food, and consider if you really want to indulge in something that contains certain ingredients that you can barely pronounce). It contains artificial flavors to enhance the flavor and increase shelf life at a more affordable rate.
All of this I could’ve dealt with. Obviously it wouldn’t be my first choice cereal, but I might’ve been able to manage. Then, I saw it. Right there with the red exclamation point staring at me: “Contains Trans-Fats! Even if label says 0!” My heart sank as I continued to read what I already knew, trans-fats have been linked to increase risk of heart disease by raising LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowering HDL (good cholesterol). I then learned that there is a loophole with the FDA, where companies can round down the amount of trans-fats in a product, if it is less than half a gram per serving. Now, it’s not like eating one bowl of this every once in a while could hurt you, but every day? And when your family, like mine, has a history of heart disease, is that what I really want in my pantry?
In order to tell if products have trans-fats in them, look for the term “partially-hydrogenated” oils and fats in the ingredients list. If you see this and you’d rather be safe than sorry, it might be best to steer clear of that product as much as possible when you hit the grocery store.
As if learning this information wasn’t one of the most disheartening/exciting things this app did for me this week, I spent hours procrastinating actual homework reading the Daily Tip articles and then researching the information further. This week, in an a two part article by Vani Hari aka Food Babe, Hari goes into detail about how junk food companies are exploiting Americans by putting ingredients that are banned in other countries in our foods.
She explains how certain additives that are found in our American version of foods have been linked to hyperactivity in children, obesity, and food cravings. Ingredients that have not only been banned but have been made punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $450,000 fine are being thrown into the batter of products sold on our supermarket shelves to consumers, who might as well have the same “sucker” stamped on their heads that I had at the Verizon store. Not only did I find this outright appalling but I actually got worked up over it. So much so, that I cannot even fathom how many more products are out there that Hari didn’t describe in part two of her article.
Needless to say, week one and I’ve been Fooducated for sure. I am clearly hooked and how could I not be? By the end of this month, I hope you’ll feel the same!
Stay Healthy, Stay Happy, Stay Fooducated