Read food labels

Eating fresh products is all well and good, but in the end it often happens that we eat products already prepared or at least packaged: pasta, honey, eggs…and that we even sometimes respond to the cookies call. And what? Even in this case, it’s possible to try to enjoy our meal and have less impact on the environment and take more into account the production conditions. And to do so, nothing better than to look carefully the food labels:

Boisson locale - Aubrac, France

  • The products origin – indeed, for instance it’s really common to find an organic honey, but that comes from many different countries in the world. In that case, it’s better to choose a good mountain honey.
  • The ingredients list:  for instance, it’s really common to find some food products where the main ingredients that the products should be composed of represent only a tiny portion of the final product…vegetable soups with only 30 % of vegetables, fruits juice with 12 % of fruits…
  • The presence of food additives (food coloring, flavor enhancers, preservatives…), which mean « any substance not normally consumed as a food by itself and not normally used as a typical ingredient of the food, whether or not it has nutritive value »[1] . Used in order to improve the taste or the general appearance of the products, they can sometimes have negative impacts on the health and the environment.
  • Labels – some labels allow to know if the products chosen used no or less some substances, are cultivated or bred in a different way (organic, free-range farming, fair trade)
  • Packaging, same products can be packed in a different way, with less packaging, more easily recycle…

And let’s admit it, it’s quite complex. In French, there is an excellent guide on reading food labeland sustainable food consumption realized by “l’académie de Strasbourg”. You can also find two webpages in English that give some useful advices :

http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2013/01/how-to-read-food-labels.html

http://www.uky.edu/Ag/NewCrops/introsheets/consumerterms.pdf


[1] Source : CODEX STAN, GENERAL STANDARD FOR THE LABELLING OF PREPACKAGED FOODS

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