What is "App"ening - Fooducate

Fooducate: Free(Compatible with iPhone,iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later)

This post is all about food.  If you are a human and totally not bothered about what reaches your tummy via your mouth, this page is not for you.  Thanks for stopping by.Au revoir.  On the other hand, if you are a  human and  buy your food from grocery stores, not grow your food in your own backyard or get your dairy products from your  own farm that is, this page is for you. Willkommen. If you live in the USA, you may read the entire post. If you live elsewhere,you can skip the tabular column.  If you live in the heaven or hell, I'm  glad that my post reached you.)

Without knowing what is in store(literally and really) I downloaded the app "Fooducate". FYI,Fooducate lets you scan a grocery store product and grades(A,A-…D) the product based on its nutritional value and ingredients. As with other app, I could've kept my hands off from this app.  But destiny played its part and I used this app to scan a product that is very dear to my kids.  The product had all flowery fancy healthy words like "No Trans Fat,  100% Whole Grain, Rich in Vitamin D".  And you know, what grade the product got? C-.  That is when I felt the ground below breaking into two, that is when I felt I was swept away by tsunami waves.  If you eat something bad, you don't mind.  But if you give your kids something thinking that is the best product and it turns to be worst product, that is when the disaster strikes.   The reasons listed for grading the product C- is, the product had controversial chemicals and heavily processed. At that moment, it dawned on me that I had  given importance only to nutrition facts and  didn't care much about the ingredients.  Since I'm a vegetarian I run my eyes on the ingredients list only to see if any egg or animal stuff is there in the product.  I was ignorant about all the chemical names in the list.  After scanning the entire stuff in my pantry, I realized that only some qualities of some ingredients reflects in the nutrition facts, not all.  For example if the product has whole wheat, it's quality may reflect in total carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.  On the other hand, if the product has controversial additive "BHT"( an agent directly involved in causing cancer)does its effect reflect in the Nutrition Facts or anywhere else in the package for that matter?At least not in the USA. BHT is only just the tip of the iceberg.  To see the entire iceberg, download  Fooducate(free) if you have an iPhone(or any i's)/android. If you don't, you can enter upc or name of the product in their website .

I sincerely Thank the people(dietitians and parents) behind this wonderful app.  True to its name, it did educate me about the food.  My entire family got hooked on to this app.  I'm going to talk about my family,you may skip(the italics) if you want to. My 6yr. old daughter said "Mom, this dinosaur oatmeal must be B- because oatmeal is good, but dinosaur eggs are not good".  That dinosaur oatmeal of course is graded B-.  My 11yr. old son said "This app is big fat lie.  Don't believe this mom".  All the junk that he eats are C-.  My husband is once relieved because now I give him the list(when he goes grocering) with the brand name which saves him from buying random stuff, which in turn saves big altercation.  I was enlightened by their  blog as well.  Without burning the midnight oil, I learnt from Fooducate that
i)in some cases it is better to eat reduced fat in moderate amount than fat free, because in order to maintain the texture and quality of the fat free product, so many chemicals are used.
ii)potata chips is the lesser of savory evils
and much much more.
Though the app is better than perfect, I do have a couple of suggestions/doubts.
i)although most products are found in regular grocery store, some products that has good grades are not found in the grocery stores.  Instead of web searching for the store that carries the product, it would be better to see in the App only about the stores that has the product.
ii)sometimes a product has two different grades.  For example Bagel Bites Three Cheese Bagel is graded C- and B+ as well. I really don't understand this.
iii) the reason is not shown for some products that are graded C/C-/C+ .
iv)different brands of same milk variety is graded different.  For example, "365 Whole Milk" is graded B-  but "Stoneyfield Farm Whole Milk" is graded C+.

That said, I could've put a period and finished my blog right here.  In the process of swapping from C- to B+, I scanned some products and was awestruck by the grades.  I want you to struck with awe too.  Climb aboard, I'll walk you through the different aisles of the grocery store. . This is a kind of review about the products.  "Let your own discretion be your tutor".  Also, I just want to let you know that eating everything graded A cannot guarantee anything. Somethings are not in our hands.  I used to eat wisely, exercise regularly  but I had an ectopic pregnancy.  So all we can do is eat well, sleep well, exercise well……oh!well!!let's get into the subject.

First Stop:  Dairy
I don't have to say anything about milk, since you know whole milk is "rich"  in saturated fat and fat free milk is "poor"in saturated fat.

Making of cheese calls for "rennet", which can be from animal or non-animal source. If you are a vegetarian you might want to avoid cheese that contains animal rennet.  If you see the Kosher symbol, rest assured that cheese doesn't have animal rennet because mixture of milk and meat are prohibited  according to Kosher law.  But some brands that doesn't have animal rennet may not haveKosher symbol because their production has to be supervised and certified by a rabbi.  This website lists cheeses that are made without animal rennet.
Here are the grades for the cheeses that I scanned.
(Any brand of fat free reduced cream cheese is B+)

Sour Cream:
It is better to eat full fat/reduced fat sour cream  in moderate because, some brands of fat free sour cream has chemicals added to stabilize taste and the texture.  I personally like"Daisy" brand because it has lesser ingredients whether it is natural/reduced/fat free.

Since I'm a woman of small brain, I'm entitled to think whatever I want.  So, I used to think if there can be fat free cheese, why can't there be fat free butter, so that we can imbibe less saturated fat.  Again thanks to fooducate, I discovered "Whipped Butter". Whipped butter has less of everything than regular butter.  (A standard tub of whipped butter weighs 8 ounces, equal to two sticks of butter).


With the help of google god, I came to know I can bake cake/brownies/cookies with whipped butter .  I made eggless pumpkin brownie with whipped butter and it turned out perfect.  Also we use a lot of ghee(clarified butter) . Luckily ghee made out of whipped butter had the same traits has ghee made out of regular butter.  I did an Indian delicacy which calls for quiet a lot of ghee and that delicacy turned out good too.
Unsalted regular butter is graded C and "Breakstone Unsalted Whipped Butter" is graded B-.

Next StopCereal
Cold Cereal:
Really speaking, a healthy cereal must have the following traits:
i)the first ingredient should be whole grain (preferably whole wheat or whole oats)
ii)should have at least 3g of fiber
iii)should have less than 10g of sugar per serving.
iv)must not contain partially hydrogenated anything.
v)must taste good(of course).

Here comes the grades for the cereal.

Oatmeal is such lovely product.  Even the canister
that has oatmeal help reduce cholesterol!!

I don't have to say anything about oatmeal, because you already know the health benefits of oatmeal.  Although there are many brands I chose to scan only Quaker.  Old habits die hard. 

Third StopBread, Bagel, Tortilla & Taco

Thanks to Bread, I learnt that "wordings engraved on the front of the package are often deceptive and you've to check the sides too".  After checking the sides and front of the package I settled with a brand of bread which fulfilled all the needs of good bread(100% whole wheat, kids approved,less sodium,  no high fructose corn syrup, lesser ingredients). But to my dismay I found out it has a chemical ingredient  called "azodicarbonamide".
The "a" chemical is banned in European Countries and Australia.
The "a" chemical is banned as a food additive in UK
If you use the "a" chemical in Singapore, you are penalized.
And in the USA, we use "a" to bake goods.
Had  tough time finding a bread that kids like and that doesn't have controversial colors and chemicals. Finally settled for the store brand that doesn't have any chemicals but is not 100% whole grain and is graded B.  Same story applies to bagel, tortilla and taco.  (first ingredient should be whole grain, have lesser ingredients,no HFCS, no PHVO ).

Condiments & Sauce:

Tomato ketchup(any brand) is graded C/D because of two "S": sugar and salt.
Maple syrup(except Vermont Maple Syrup, which is not available in our local grocery store)  is graded D because there is really no "maple" syrup in that and has only "corn" syrup.
Jam/Jelly/Preserves:  Except sugar free jam, almost all other jams are graded C because of high sugar content.  Sugar free jam has artificial sweetener but is graded A-.  And I don't understand this grading. After searching the jam aisle for a long time,  I finally found "Welch's Natural Concord Grape Spread".   Though this spread is graded C+, it has no HFCS and no preservatives and is minimally
Pasta Sauce should have tomatoes(obviously),fresh herbs not dried ,fresh vegetables not dehydrated and no HFCS.
Peanut Butter should have no hydrogenated oils.
Salad Dressing:  "Dress(clothes) make the man".  Similarly dressing makes the salad.  After trying couple of dressings, I finally fell in love with "Annie's"Natural dressings,because, all the ingredients(but fox xantham gum) in the dressings can be found in my pantry. So why don't I make my own dressing?That's what Fooducate recommends too.  Fooducate also says that, fat free salad dressing is a bad nutritional decision.  Click here to learn more.
I won't buy anything other that Annie's, these grades are just for you!!

Frozen Goods:

Frozen Veggie: On season, buy fresh vegetables.  Off season, buy frozen vegetables.   Canned veggies may contain sugar,salt, preservatives and BPA.
Waffles: Waffles are good though, but maple syrup?

Dry Packaged Goods:
Pasta(any brand,any variety) should be whole grain.
Can't say anything about Mac&Cheese, because it's salty&high in saturated fat.
Choose Whole Wheat Flour instead of refined,enriched,bleached flour.

Last StopOil

Not all oils are made equal.  Some contains unhealthy saturated fats, some contains healthy unsaturated fats PUFA(poly unsaturated fat) & MUFA(mono unsaturated fat).
PUFA & MUFA's improves blood cholesterol levels,may decrease the risk of type2 diabetes.
MUFA's have a little edge over PUFA, in reducing LDL.

I bypassed some products like cereal bars,chips, juice,whipped cream,ice cream, cookies, crackers,baking supplies…. because they are all wants and not needs.  If you see the grades you can't eat, if you have to eat don't see the grades!!

Incidentally as I was writing this post, Quaker man "Larry" got a makeover.  Consumer Reports published best and worst supermarkets.  I don't know whether I bored you with a big post,but I had a whale of a time scanning so many products and getting to know about the ingredients. Only down side is now wherever I see the UPC, my eyes go in search of nutrition facts and ingredients.  Finally came to a realization that "Not all that has UPC, have nutrition facts and ingredients".

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Lotsa work. Great use of spreadsheets, too!