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Teach people to read labels


Kanawha County WIC employees conducting tour of a local Kroger store, helping participants learn to read labels and compare similarly-priced brands. Photo: Kate Long

“People aren’t born knowing how to read food labels,” Charlene Cook, director of the Mullens Opportunity Center, accurately says. She wanted to help people compare products at the grocery store, to find the healthiest brand. “Two similarly-priced cans of beans can be very different in nutritional quality,” she said, “but you need to know what to look for.”

She discovered the “Shopping Matters” program, classes held in a grocery store. She adopted their materials for tours of grocery stores. “It was a big success,” she said. “People really liked it. When you haven’t got much money, you want to make sure you’re getting the best product your money can buy.”


If you’d like to promote smart shopping in your community:

Here’s a database that reads 80,000 labels for you:

In 2014, the Environmental Working Group has released “Food Scores” a rating of more than 80,000 foods in a searchable online database to help people shop smarter and eat healthier. It factors in nutrition, harmful food additives and processing. Check it to see how the brands you buy score!  


And here are two sites where you can check the nutritional content of fast-food offerings and common grocery store items:

* Calorie King:  Handy and well-designed.  Easy to check when you’re eating out at a chain restaurant.

*  USDA National Nutrient Database:  Comprehensive and a bit hard to search.


Also see these related Try This pages:

Healthy cooking classes, Teach kids how food affects them, Grocery stores: feature healthy items, Promote home gardening, Convenience stores: sell fresh produce


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