Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tips for decoding food labels

Posted By on Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 12:30 PM

click to enlarge food.labels.jpg

The labels on your milk, meat and produce can tell you a lot more than the nutritional information if you just know what to look for on the sticker.

Lifehacker has a solid break out of what various marketing terms mean in relation to products. The two key points are that organic is one of the only strongly regulated words (and there's still some gray area) and that terms like natural and grass-fed don't actually say much about the conditions in which an animal was raised.

But even beyond interpreting a label, the numbers and codes on packaging can provide further information as to a food's origin. Consumerist links to two Web sites: Where is My Milk From? and FoodLogiq.

Where is My Milk From? offers a primer on how to identify and interpret dairy codes in order to ascertain where your milk is being made. The processing plant and state can both be found on most milk cartons. 

FoodLogiq represents the next step in putting together growers, buyers and consumers. Participating growers register their products, which are then traced from the farm to market. The produce has a specific code which can be entered online or texted via mobile phone, which then pulls up a profile of the grower. 

Not all produce or milk can be traced -- this is an imperfect set of data. However, it is a start towards reconnecting with our food sources, even if we have to use another layer of technology to do it. 

[Image via Flickr: sahbapasta]

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