Fooducate: What We’re Really Eating
Mid-semester is coming around the corner quickly – homework is piling up, midterms and tests are becoming weekly occurrences and we’re all feeling just a little run down at this point in the year. What else does all of the academic mayhem mean? Junk food, sugar and just about anything else that is quick and convenient. Our dorm room and apartment kitchens are crammed full of Pop Tarts, microwave meals, soda and chips, but can we really expect a healthier option when our days are busy and our nights are used in study sessions?
Though you may think that healthy eating is near impossible, learning just a few tips and tricks to educate yourself on what you are eating can save you money and boost your health. Using nothing more than a smartphone and a few extra minutes at the grocery store, Fooducate, an app available on Android and iPhone, is the answer to healthy living. Quick and convenient, this handheld application gives you direct access to learning just what you are eating.
Fooducate serves to educate shoppers on exactly what is in the foods that they buy. Now, most of us tend to think of ourselves as relatively healthy beings — we choose fruits and vegetables at the supermarket, pick up “reduced fat,” “low sodium” and “0-gram trans fat” products all the time and give ourselves a small pat on the back for making good choices. However, take a closer look at many of those products that boast the healthier option, and you may just see that though the label promises a healthier you, you may not be getting what you’re paying for.
The application comes with a barcode scanner and space to type and search over 22,000 products that line the shelves of the grocery store. One scan, and Fooducate rates your product on an A-D grade scale, and shows the nutritional information in addition to offering a detailed list of the various chemicals and preservatives that are included in all of our favorite foods. What’s even better is the list of alternatives that offer a healthier option. It takes a little extra time around when shopping, but my husband and I are now hooked on checking everything we put in our cart. Traveling aisle to aisle last night around the neighborhood market, we scanned and searched for better products, and surprisingly ended up spending the same amount of money on some much healthier, more natural options to fill our stomachs with.
Isn’t it interesting that the healthier foods are the ones that are harder to find? I found that the products that earned an “A” or “B” were hidden in the corner shelf, while big brands full of chemicals were on show. The truth is that when more chemicals are pumped into the food we eat, there is no need to use higher quality ingredients, therefore making our food cheaper and easier to produce. However, don’t give up on your quest for a healthier you — the better brands are accessible, they just sometimes take a little searching.
One scan and you might find that the ranch you dress that the salad you eat on “healthy dinner night” with contains preservatives such as EDTA, Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, which can cause skin rash and asthma, in addition to being on the FDA’s toxicity watchlist. That “C” grade listed sounds more appetizing the more you read.
Another, and you may learn that those Hot Pocket quick lunches, though we know aren’t the healthiest option but definitely the quickest, earned a “D” on Fooducate for containing “controversial artificial colors” that can cause hyperactivity. Not only do many of these microwaveable snacks contain food dyes, but they also give you a good serving of nitrates and nitrites, preservatives added that can cause cancer in pregnant women and children when broken down in the stomach.
Many products such as refrigerated canned dinner rolls and crackers contain tertiary butylhydroquinone, more commonly known as TBHQ, a petroleum derivative that can cause nausea, vomiting, ringing of the ears and collapse when ingested in high amounts, according to Natural News and Fooducate. Though the FDA approved it in small amounts as a “harmless additive,” why would you want to eat something that has to be limited for safety reasons?
Now, Fooducate isn’t just to give you the list of food you shouldn’t eat. It not only gives you thousands of options of healthy and safe food choices, in addition to the great “alternative” list, which offers similar food items and variations that are much better for your diet. It’s a complete way to see just what you’re paying for and what you are about to prepare for dinner.
These are just a few of the products listed on the mobile application — thousands more are waiting to be read by enthusiastic shoppers who care about what they are consuming. I highly encourage downloading the Fooducate app and taking a closer look at what you might be ingesting on a daily basis. Though many of the foods we love to eat taste great, the health benefits are not so appetizing. Taking an extra 15 minutes to look around the grocery store for better alternatives, search the foods that are in your cart and looks for healthier options. The price difference is barely noticeable but the benefits are much bigger.