Okay, here are two revelations for you. These are free, so don't expect too much.
Apparently I haven't been in Walmart in a long time. They have self check-out registers now! And YES, they work better than the ones at Lowes Foods! (I am well-known for going off on the self check-out at LF).
And also, a friend of mine's husband shared an app with me that I thought would be interesting to use. It's called Fooducate. This is going to be scary because I'm going to let you go with me on a journey through what I bought at the grocery store today. We'll see how "good" it really is. I'm nervous.
Walmart brand yogurt ($0.08/oz) - Rated a B-. Not too bad. Has 8 tsp of sugar (I guess per serving?) and is highly processed. The app also says if I'm eating this I should learn about industrial caramel coloring. Hmm... might have to research that. P.S. Turns out that caramel coloring caused cancer in lab rats but apparently it's not dangerous enough for a "cancer-causing agent" food label. BUT eating this helps manage cholesterol levels. Seeing as I bought it for my kids I don't think that's an issue anyway. It's also high in calcium so that's great news! And here I was thinking that since it was yogurt it was going to be super healthy... Another note - apparently Trader Joe's yogurt is the way to go if you aren't doing homemade!
Armour pepperoni - Rated a D. D!?!? Say whaaaaa!? Has over 20% of the daily max of salt! Has nitrites, more than 20% of daily saturated fat, and has a controversial additive called BHA! I guess nitrites form nitrosamines which can cause cancer in young children and pregnant women. Ouch. The BHA is approved by the FDA even though the Department of Health and Human Services considers it to be "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." Yuck. This product is also highly processed. Looks like there is NOTHING good about this product... but what are my options for making pepperoni calzones!? I'll have to research that.
Walmart brand spaghetti. - Rated a B. Again, not too bad. Of course the app recommends you eat whole grain pasta and make your own sauce if you're eating spaghetti. But it seems like this spaghetti is pretty good. The thing that brings it down from an A to a B is just the fact that it's not whole wheat. But try telling my husband that.
Double Luck brand corn and green beans - Rated a B-. These are minimally processed, which is good. The ingredients are just green beans (or corn), water, and salt. Also, I tend to buy the canned veggies that have no-salt-added, which is even better. As far as I can tell, there are no brand alternatives that are better than these. Looks like all canned (and frozen) green beans and corn rate a B. When you get into things like spinach, carrots, yams, etc., those all rate an A just for the nutritional value of the vegetable I presume. Good to know that this brand is comparable to other name brands, considering I pay less than $0.50 per can for these at Walmart. Sometimes off-brand is just as good!!
Malt-O-Meal cereal - the Lucky Charms version. - Rated a C-. The problem is, I actually checked this one at the store but still let Brianna pick it out. I couldn't find any kids cereal that rated any higher! So I knew this one was going to be bad, but there really weren't that many options. She just finished a bag of strawberry frosted mini-wheats so she wanted something different (I don't blame her - that was a 2 1/2 pound bag!). This was better than anything chocolate or super colorful, and although Cheerios rate an A on this app, it's only the plain ones that rate an A. Anyway, this cereal contains artificial colors which is a huge no-no for kids - can not only be linked to cancer and allergic reactions, but also hyperactivity! Yowza! That's why I don't let my kids eat Froot Loops and Trix!! This cereal is also highly processed and is quite low in fiber. Not that my kids need to worry about that at this point in their lives.
Mountain Dew - Rated a D. Oh, I couldn't wait to get home and check this out! Fortunately, no one in my house drinks this, or any soda, except for my husband. I figure he's old enough to make his own decisions about what he's going to drink! Again, it contains those bad artificial colors. Has 11.5 tsp of sugar per serving. Contains sodium benzoate, which reacts with the ascorbic acid to create a carcinogen. It's highly processed. And contains high fructose corn syrup (scientists go back and forth about how bad this actually is). Has EDTA which is on the FDA's TOXICITY WATCHLIST!? Whaaaaat!? EDTA is used as a preservative to retain color. It may irritate the skin or cause skin rashes and even asthma. It's on FDA's list of food additives to be studied for toxicity. And when is that study happening??? Mt. Dew also contains brominated vegetable oil which is apparent very bad. It's even been banned in Europe for years. Liquid bromine is found in car seats, mattresses and carpeting and is extremely hazardous to our skin and lungs. Bromine is fat-soluble and builds up in our tissues. The app basically says there's no reason to consume something questionable when there are reasonable alternatives. One funny thing - the app lists "Water" as an alternative to drinking Mountain Dew. Hahahaha! Who wants to try to tell that to my husband!?
Clementines - Rated an A. Finally, I bought SOMETHING good for my family! Geesh. May help manage cholesterol levels, is minimally processed, naturally high in calcium. Score one for this Mom!
So what I take from this is... I can buy all the clementines I want. I can stick with the cheaper brands of spaghetti and canned vegetables. I probably need to buy organic yogurt or make my own. I need to find a new brand of cereal to feed my kids - THAT TASTES GOOD. And I need to research pepperoni.
Since I bought some items at Harris Teeter today, too, I may as well throw those in the mix as well so you can judge me for all those purchases at the same time.
Quaker Chewy Dipps Chocolate Chip granola bars - Rated a D. Ack!! I guess I should have assumed that any granola bar dipped in chocolate can't really be good for you. (But they were only $1.00!) It looks like these contains trans-fats, 3.5 tsp of sugar per bar (which I guess, is a lot), has high fructose corn syrup, is highly processed, contains artificial flavorings, and the app says "Dare you to count how many sugar ingredients here". I guess there are LOTS of ingredients in this product that are actually sugar disguised. Then the app says, "One of the worst products in its category." OUCH!!! The app does say that granola bars in general are not very good for you unless you make them yourself.
Hormel Compleats beef pot roast meal - Rated a C. I got these for Stephen's work lunch because they were free and microwaveable. There is over 50% of daily sodium in this container!! Contains MSG. It's highly processed. And has the caramel coloring that I talked about earlier. It also has a lot of cholesterol in it and corn syrup. BUT - it's naturally high in Vitamin A. That's a good thing I guess. Fortunately I very rarely buy these (unless they're free) because they don't fill him up.
Wholly salsa - Rated a B+. Not too bad. This is Stephen's favorite salsa and I can almost always get it free during Super Doubles, so we eat two packages of it about once a month or so. It is minimally processed, and a top product in its category!
International Delight coffee creamer singles - Rated a C+. Contains phosphoric acid which has been linked to lower bone density. It's highly processed. Alternatives would be the So Delicious brand (which I do buy when it's on sale + coupon) or almond milk.
I did buy several other produce items which obviously rate high on the scale. I know some people might think using this app is over-thinking your food but I think it's really interesting. It's exactly the reason I decided to only feed our kids homemade waffles, and why we like to eat venison that we kill over beef from the store. I try to only eat eggs from friends who give us their eggs from chickens or guineas. I think it's interesting that some of the things I thought weren't too bad (like the granola bars) are actually really awful! I mean, it doesn't make me feel disgusted, or I wouldn't have let my kids have one of these for breakfast this morning. But I've never kept these in our pantry, and after looking at this, I'll never go out of my way to buy them.
So what do you guys think? Is it really important what foods we're putting into our bodies? I feel like I'm pretty balanced. I pay more attention to what the kids eat than what I eat, but I don't mind them having fruit snacks or Pop Tarts or chocolate-covered granola bars on occasion, either. How do you think your family's diet would rate on this app??