Teach people to read labels
“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:
- The Cooking Matters organization offers a first-rate Shopping Matters curriculum on shopping healthy on a budget that teaches people how to read labels and choose healthy low-cost products: http://cookingmatters.org/node/2274
- Video: Navigating the grocery store. Michael Pollan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snP40-unO0A
- The US Department of Agriculture offers a six-session roadmap to workshops for children on reading food labels. They also offer roadmaps to workshops for older kids called “Media Smart” on the way media advertising affects food and physical activity choices. http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/professional-and-career-resources/nutrition-education/curricula-and-lesson-plans
- The USDA offers this useful interactive way to teach food labeling: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/downloads/NutritionFactsLabel.pdf
- And here are well-designed handouts for kids on reading labels from the USDA.
- Kids Eat Right has minigrants for members: https://www.eatright.org/Foundation/ Kids Eat Right is a five-year campaign of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation.
- WVU Extension Service’s health and nutrition experts can show you how to create healthy and affordable meals that the entire family can enjoy. They provide information on food labels and other nutrition topics,
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: http://www.calorieking.com/. Handy and well-designed. Easy to check when you’re eating out at a chain restaurant.
* USDA National Nutrient Database: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/. 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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