Sunday, October 02, 2005


I am a label-whore. Not in the conventional sense. I could care less who designed my clothes, as long a I look great in them. No, I devoutly read food labels. I can’t get enough. I believe it began in my early mornings of childhood when I fondly read over all six sides of the cereal box. To know what that box was all about – contents measure by weight not volume, prize inside, part of a complete breakfast, for more information much reading to be had. This was my unintentional preparation for my foray into the nutritional content of all my future food purchases.

I love to grocery shop. Perhaps it stems from a past filled with hand-me-down clothing donated from my cousins as being the extent of my back-to-school shopping, whereas I identify with the grocery store as the place where one can actually SHOP. As I inevitably moved away from home and began to wander those hallowed aisles on my own, my label reading had not taken full hold yet. I still practiced it as a passing fancy at the dinner table, just to keep meals interesting. It wasn’t until I began to pay attention to nutrition that my hobby turned into a full-fledged obsession. Suddenly, label-reading became a necessary tool against the enemy in the war against whatever new thing I had learned was bad for me. It began with sodium. I would do double takes of canned soup if the sodium content was too high. It was soon followed by sugar. Who knew ketchup was so evil? In the food wars, adversary was everywhere, especially when it tasted good. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, it turned out that there were actually good fats. And then I found out that the bad fats were extra bad. Goodbye processed food. Farewell sucrose-fructose-glucose, corn syrup, inverted liquid sugar heaven. Insert more time spent in the kitchen preparing food from scratch to control the sodium/sugar/fat levels. Such is the price a label-whore has to pay for her obsession.

It’s a miracle I can purchase food at all with my newfound knowledge. It directly affects my shopping lists. It filters what I do and do not purchase and or put into my mouth. At the very least, it increases my guilt levels when I inevidebly succum to temptation. Fortunetly, being a label-whore also aids in curtailing temptation. I have lost any and all desire to consume products which I feel are made with the WRONG ingredients. For example, cheap ice cream is made with oil. It’s called ice cream; is it really to much to expect it to be made with ice and cream? Yet sometimes, all my hard work and dedication really pays off. Last night I finally found tortillas made with healthy oil instead of shortening (trans-fat free!). I nearly shouted for joy as I snatched up my find, smirked at my shopping savvy, and strutted all the way to the check-out lane.