Why I buy Siggi’s Vanilla Yogurt

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June 16, 2015
Brands Foodwise Likes + Yogurt

Pull any yogurt off the shelf wherever you shop for food (yes, including Whole Foods) and the range of sugar will astound you.  How do you find one that tastes good and is “good” for you?

The Data

I dug into over 2,741 yogurt and yogurt products to write my earlier yogurt posts about Plain, Greek and Flavored yogurts.  From this analysis I knew:

1. Yogurt manufacturers include extra ingredients for texture, shelf life and cost savings

2. Sugar ranged from 0-49g across all types and varieties

 

Since there was no easy trick to optimize for short ingredient lists, low sugar and taste (based on ads, front of packaging, brand halo, etc), I used data plus my family’s preferences to help find the best yogurt for my family.

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10 Dirty Secrets about Food Labels

food label montage
June 12, 2015
Lists + Tips

Some of these are commonly known, while others are less publicly discussed. #1 and #2 really astound me.

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If you’re not careful, organic food labels can convince you to make bad decisions

organic junk food
June 10, 2015
Ingredients + Tips

We’ve all done it. Found a hack or shortcut to help us make easier decisions. According to researchers at Cornell University, the average person makes 226.7 decisions about food a day, so can we really blame ourselves?

 

Organic Food is Mainstream

 

organic walmart

 

Organic food sales in 2014 were $32 Billion and at 11% year over year growth is the highest growing category of food.  In the US Walmart and Krogers, prominently offer organic products.

 

For many, the shortcut for healthier eating is to buy organic.  For these consumers, organic serves as a proxy for healthy.

 

But is organic always healthier?   After all, organic ice cream is still ice cream.  I dove into some research about organic food.

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For Healthy Mac & Cheese: Buy Frozen?

mac and cheese 1
June 8, 2015
Ingredients + Pasta + Products

At the grocery store, macaroni and cheese comes boxed or frozen.  Read more to learn how I discovered which option of this comfort food to buy for my family.

My Epiphany

As my son began to eat solid food on a more regular basis, macaroni and cheese became a staple.  We ordered it from restaurant menus when we ate out and turned to it when we were short on time and wanted him to eat, but did not think he would eat what my husband and I prepared for our meals.

 

I hadn’t purchased mac & cheese from the grocery store since I was in college. What was the best option for my son? Should I be buying Organic? Should I even be buying mac and cheese from the grocery store at all?

 

I set out to answer this question, and what I found surprised me.

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Do Junk Food Ads Impact your Household?

kids tv ads
May 27, 2015
cereal + Products

On average children view 4000 Junk Food Ads Every Year influencing food preference and perceptions.

Commercial Viewing Linked to Junk Food Consumption

Research continues to prove a strong correlation between marketing of non-nutritious foods to children and their consumption.  A study by the University of Michigan shows children who regularly watched television commercials consumed more junk food than children in households where television watching occurred commercial-free.

kids tv ads

 

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What I learned analyzing 3023 Cereals

cereal aisle
May 19, 2015
cereal

On the decline as America’s go-to breakfast food since the 1990s, cereal isn’t necessarily the healthiest option anyways

 

Cereal averages 19.2 ingredients!

With an entire aisle often devoted to it, cereal provides us lots of options.  So many in fact that today an average cereal for sale in the grocery store contains from 1-61 ingredients!

 

Number of Products by Ingredient Count

 

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Source: Shopwell, Walmart, manufacturer websites

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What I learned from analyzing 746 Buns & Rolls

burgers and buns
May 12, 2015
Bread

If you eat buns or rolls with your hot dogs, hamburgers or other BBQ treats, you are likely eating extra ingredients, including sugar.

 

Grill Time

Memorial Day weekend is synonymous with outdoor bbqs. Usually the protein often commands much of our attention and discussion and the buns and rolls are an after thought if that. This is a mistake.

 

Buns and Rolls

Hamburger, Hot Dog and BBQ Buns make up 11% of the Bread category in US Retail. The breakdown skews slightly more towards patty shapes with Hamburger and BBQ Buns making up 56% of the segment.

 

Types of Specific Product Buns for Sale

 

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White or Wheat Bread?

white vs wheat
May 10, 2015
Bread

Wheat or White? This is the question a waitress asks you order a breakfast dish that includes toast. This is the decision you make in the grocery store about what to use for your kids sandwiches.  What should you do?

 

A fascinating article in the Washington Post recently examined sales data in the bread category from Euromonitor. Since 2005 white bread consumption fell 20% while wheat consumption increased 70%.

 

Given this trend over the past decade, it’s unsurprising Wheat and Whole grain bread products outnumber White bread products 2.3x on the shelves.

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So what do you buy your family?  If you’re like most, you’re likely buying Wheat bread of some sort.

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MSG, Real Fruit Juice and Other Tricks in Our Food

collage of food
May 4, 2015
Ingredients + Tips

There  are many loopholes in the regulation of food additives in the US.  These gray areas enable food manufacturers to trick us in claims and with food labels.

Use this list as a reference to make sure you are not falling into these top traps.

  1. “Real Fruit Juice”: Colorings and flavors are added to beverages to lead consumers to believe they are buying real fruit juice when in reality they are buying a beverage with lots of added chemicals
  2. Fortified Junk Food: Vitamins and minerals are added to junk food to enable higher daily value percentages and front of package claims making the junk food appear “more healthy”
  3. Where’s the beef?: MSG and hydrolyzed vegetable protein provide meat flavor to products with little to no meat and transglutaminase works as a glue to bind small pieces of meat into larger offerings
  4. Wild impersonation: Carotenoid colorings such as canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are added to farm raised salmon to make it mimic the color of wild salmon
  5. Mock Fruit: A mixture of colorings, flavorings, fat and thickening agents can imitate berries and other fruits
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