By Hannah Alderfer, BA, CPT, FMSC

Let’s face it: the American food industry is full of horrible food additives, chemicals, and artificial ingredients. Are we even eating REAL FOOD anymore? When it comes to picking out healthy food for you and your family, it’s not as easy as it may seem. If you want to be health conscious, you must become an expert at reading food labels and discovering what’s okay and what is not. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization for improving the health of people and the environment, has recently come out with a Dirty Dozen list of food additives to avoid. These additives have either been associated with health concerns or have been banned/restricted in other countries. These additives are not just limited to foods, however, they are also found in healthcare products like shampoos, soaps, cosmetics, and more. The next time you’re at the store, check out the list of ingredients labeled on the package for a few items you normally buy and see if they have one of the following:

  • Nitrites and nitrates
  • Potassium bromate
  • Propyl paraben
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Propyl gallate
  • Theobromine
  • Secret flavor ingredients… termed Natural Flavor or Artificial Flavor
  • Artificial colors
  • Diacetyl
  • Phosphate-based food additives
  • Aluminum-based additives

Even though I came from a family who farms with organic practices, I didn’t grow up eating all organic food. As I have become more aware of the dangers of the chemicals added to many packaged foods and the way in which animal products, fruits, and vegetables are grown and raised, I make an effort to find the healthiest alternatives and shop around for the best prices, but it’s not always easy. If you’re finding it difficult to buy foods that are free from chemicals check out EWG’s “Good Food on a Tight Budget” free printable shopping guide. It’s an excellent tool to help you get the best for your buck.
Check it out! Scroll down to the “print your own guide” to find the online booklet: