9

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What's your opinion on the current headline and linked article "Why Nutrition Labels are Useless if you eat Paleo"?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 08, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Background: I find myself more dedicated than "80/20 paleo", but not perfect. I generally consider myself an epicurean hedonist that just-so-happens to fit into this paleo culture/community. Like many people here, one of my big interests is food, fitness, and the geekery and minutia of those topics.

I'm sure there are those that read the headline and article and simply nodded their heads in agreement. I do get the Pollan-esque ideology this stems from: easily 90% of the volume of my food is label-free real food. But the article just didn't convince me at all that nutrition labels were actually /useless/.

Here's a simple concrete example. While I do make and can an abundance of tomato sauce once a year (just like my very Italian parents taught me), I do not make my own tomato paste. Avoiding metal cans of the stuff is easy -- I don't need a label to tell me if the food product is in metal or a glass jar. However, without that ever so handy nutrition label and ingredient list, I have no idea if I'm buying something that a company is warranting is "just smooshed tomatoes" or "basically ketchup". Companies may lie -- but that list is a start.

I also appreciate the extended labels (that have vitamins listed). I've learned a handful of times that some food product I was considering for purchase was a fairly good source of some trace mineral. Now, I am the kind of person that will geek out and research foods new to me, but learning those little fun facts in media res is fun and useful.

So I find that I disagree with the headline/article. I will continue to eat 90% unlabeled food. But for those times I venture into middle-of-the-grocery-store-land for tomato paste, olives, oils, etc, I do find labels a useful tool for making food choices.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 09, 2012
at 03:14 PM

Happy with this as the most balanced answer.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 08, 2012
at 09:25 PM

... still voting you up. :-) I agree with the main principle you have.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 08, 2012
at 07:07 PM

PHers don't buy cans of coconut milk? Or primal eaters buying dairy may want to know whether the cream contains carrageenan. And yes, organic cream sometimes has carageenan in it. Dark chocolate anyone? I could go on...

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on February 08, 2012
at 06:04 PM

I dont use butter or oil for cooking usually. However the butter and EVOO that I use are researched well.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 08, 2012
at 05:58 PM

As I stated, I agree ... most of the time, but not all together. For example, one *must* read oil labels to avoid things like canola, or poorly processed oils. Do you not use oils or butter when cooking? Do you press or churn your own?

  • Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

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5 Answers

best answer

5
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on February 08, 2012
at 06:07 PM

I would rather have the OPTION of more information than less information. While nutrition labels may be redundant for a diet that is mostly comprised of whole, basic foods, I think there are still times when having that information available is a boon. If I don't want to read the labels, I don't need to -- but I'd certainly rather HAVE the information and get to choose how to use it, vs. not having the information. I think it plays right into the hands of those groups who promote the idea that they shouldn't have to label, for example, GMOs or rBGH, to say that such labeling is useless. Not all of us have the luxury of getting 100% of our food from sources that we can trust--so in lieu of that, give me information, please.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 09, 2012
at 03:14 PM

Happy with this as the most balanced answer.

5
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on February 08, 2012
at 05:08 PM

it is best to avoid food with labels all together.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 08, 2012
at 07:07 PM

PHers don't buy cans of coconut milk? Or primal eaters buying dairy may want to know whether the cream contains carrageenan. And yes, organic cream sometimes has carageenan in it. Dark chocolate anyone? I could go on...

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 08, 2012
at 09:25 PM

... still voting you up. :-) I agree with the main principle you have.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on February 08, 2012
at 06:04 PM

I dont use butter or oil for cooking usually. However the butter and EVOO that I use are researched well.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 08, 2012
at 05:58 PM

As I stated, I agree ... most of the time, but not all together. For example, one *must* read oil labels to avoid things like canola, or poorly processed oils. Do you not use oils or butter when cooking? Do you press or churn your own?

3
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 08, 2012
at 05:55 PM

I hear what you're saying, but I also agree with Patrik in principle.

I barely have enough money to feed myself but I'm working hard to juggle my budget to eat as healthy and simply as possible. For me, so far it's a mix of grassfed and big-box meat. There are no local sources I've found of either grassfed meat or organic produce. There's a farmer's market "coming soon" but for now I'm reduced to big-box dairy and produce labeled organic.

While I'm living a compromise, it doesn't invalidate Patrik's point that if you have to read a label at all you are in less than optimal circumstances.

In a real world where some of us will inevitably have to read labels, I agree with you that labels are better than no labels. At least we can identify products that openly admit to vegetables oils on the assumption we won't mind and at least we can identify the certified-organic products as maybe superior to generic.

1
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on February 08, 2012
at 07:23 PM

"myself an epicurean hedonist that just-so-happens to fit into this paleo culture/community."

You are speaking my language here. However, the epicurean hedonist in me got that much more happy when I went to a majority of fresh unpackaged ingredients.

That being said, if I do purchase items with a nutrition label, I mostly ignore it... instead looking for the ingredients. If it's 100% USDA organic it is tested/certified to not contain GMO's so for canned items that's where I sway my dollars.

0
944c4a63c90e49a0219df10b495ec06e

on March 22, 2013
at 06:47 PM

I have always paid attention to the ingredient lists. So often the rest of the label is overly simple listing just fat, carbs, etc and not breaking them down which doesn't help a person. Most labels will have serving sizes that are not realistic as in what you are going to eat. Plus when these combined with either listing only a couple or not listing the vitamin/mineral content at all seems rather useless. To me the list of ingredients is definitely the most important part and if that list could actually be made larger (more easily read) and be required to list more of what the ingredients are I would be ever more appreciative.

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