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May 22, 2018  |  Login
Reading Labels: Finding Food With Good Nutritional Value and Ethical Production
By Yvonne Jeffery, Liz Barclay & Michael Grosvenor

When buying a food product, find out whether it has arrived on the shelf from a sustainable production process by checking out the following information on the label:

  • Ingredients list: Understanding the ingredients and their nutrients gives you an excellent feel for the quality of your food. Heavily processed food is likely to have added salt to assist in preservation and taste and several chemicals for flavoring and coloring. Naturally prepared foods are usually low in added salt, sugar, and saturated fats.

  • Animals used: Some animals and fish are protected because over-farming, culling, or habitat destruction has led to near extinction. From a food point of view, you're most likely to run into threatened species of fish; you can find the latest news plus handy pocket shopping guides from Seafood Watch ( The site tells you the best choices for seafood, good alternatives if you can't find the best choices, and species that you should avoid.

  • Country of origin: Somewhere on the label should be a note that says "Product of (a country)." Technically, this information tells you the country the food comes from, which is helpful if you're not able to buy a product from local sources. The note on the label can tell you, for example, whether the product is from the United States or from Mexico; however, the reality is that this information can be misleading. It may indicate, for example, where the product was processed and packaged rather than where the original produce actually came from or where it traveled to during the processing. The nuances aren't apparent from the packaging, so you may have to check sources such as the manufacturer's website to find out where it processes its products.

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