Summer and I have been participating in an Organic Challenge, and well honestly, she’s been doing most of the work. I LOVE you Summer truly I do!! Over at Baby Center, there is a forum all about living organic and feeding your baby, and children organically. They talk about all kinds of things, like formula feeding organically to buying organic produce. I haven’t participated as much in the forum as I should, because it’s a wealth of organic information just waiting for all of us. So go check out the Easy Organic Living program, that happens to be co-hosted by Healthy Child Healthy World and Baby Center with Stonyfield as the sponsor.
4/20 CHALLENGE: You are what you eat – so what are you eating?
Our modern diet is more complicated than ever before. More and more families are choosing natural and organic foods to protect their family’s health. You can too by taking simple steps.
Your challenge: Spend a few minutes this week learning about your food. Read a label!
Pick at least one convenience food your family often eats.
Read the entire label. What health claims are being made? Do you know what they mean? What are the ingredients? Do you recognize them?
Next time you’re at the store, look for a product that has the USDA Organic Seal. What are the ingredients? Do you recognize them?
I am a label reader. I like to know what’s in my food and I chose whether or not I want to purchase what’s inside my food. I even read the labels provided in the books are my deli counter and bulk food bins before purchasing new products. When I first started it took a lot of time. If you’re just now starting to read labels, I recommend going to the store later in the evening without your children. There are fewer shoppers and fewer distractions, so it’s easier to have your cart sit in one place while you have 2 or more processed foods off the shelf and in hand for comparison.
My choice for this project was macaroni and cheese. This is one of the major processed food we purchase often and in bulk. My kids love it so much we purchase mac and cheese from Costco. Costco use to carry the Annie’s Classic Mac & Cheese, but my local Costco store no longer carries it so we’ve started purchasing the Kirkland Signature brand over the alternative offered at Costco, Kraft.
The first thing I inspect on a label is the ingredients. I don’t like fully or practically hydrogenated oils also known as Trans Fats. I also don’t like high fructose corn syrup also known as corn sugar. I prefer foods without dyes, added color, or flavors (unless done so naturally, which is listed on the label). Those rules stand firmer when I’m purchasing for my kids.
Kirkland Signature – ENRICHED MACARONI PRODUCT (semolina (wheat) flour, wheat flour, niacin [vitamin B3], iron (ferrous sulfate), thiamine mononitrate [vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2], folic acid [vitamin B9]), WHEY, NONFAT MILK, RICE FLOUR, PURIFIED SEA SALT, WHEAT STRACH, NATURAL FLAVORS, CITRIC ACID, CHEDDAR CHEESE (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), SOYBEAN OIL, PAPRIKA EXTRACT (color), TURMERIC EXTRACT (color).*
Annie’s – ORGANIC WHEAT MACARONI, CHEDDAR CHEESE (cultured pasteurized milk, salt, non-animal enzymes), WHEY, BUTTERMILK, SALT, CREAM, NATURAL FLAVOR, NATURAL SODIUM PHOSPHATE, ANNATTO EXTRACT (for natural color).**
Kraft – ENRICHED MACARONI PRODUCT (durum wheat flour, wheat flour, niacin [vitamin B3], ferrous sulfate, thiamin mononitrate [vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2], folic acid [vitamin B9]), CHEESE SAUCE MIX (whey, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, salt, calcium carbonate, sodium tripolyphosphate, cantains less than 2% of citric acid, sodium phosphate, lactic adic, milk, yellow 5, yellow 6, enzymes, cheese culture).***
Further ingredient investigations:
What are semolina and durum flours? Semolina (Triticum Durum) is not truly a grain, but is the milled endosperm of Durum Wheat. Semolina is most commonly used in the manufacturing of pasta. Semolina is high in Gluten therefore, it is high in protein.
What is sodium phosphate? Sodium phosphate is a generic term for the salts of sodium and phosphoric acid.
What is calcium carbonate? Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound. It is a common substance found in rock in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime, and is usually the principal cause of hard water. It is commonly used medicinally as a calcium supplement or as an antacid, but excessive consumption can be hazardous. 
What is sodium triphosphate? Sodium triphosphate is an inorganic compound. It is produced on a large scale as a component of many domestic and industrial products, especially detergents.
What is Yellow 5? Also known as tartrazine. A study commissioned by the UK’s Food Standards Agency found that when used in a mixture of other preservatives, increased levels of hyperactivity in children were observed. Many foods contain tartrazine in varying proportions, depending on the manufacturer or the cook in charge, although nowadays the trend is to avoid it or substitute a non-synthetic dyeing substance.
What is Yellow 6? Also known as Sunset Yellow FCF. Yellow 6 is a synthetic yellow dye, manufactured from petroleum. Although there are reports it can induce an allergic reaction, this is not confirmed by scientific research.
Kirkland Signature – “Our all-natural cheese sauce is made from real cheddar cheese.” *
Annie’s – “Good source of Calcium; Good Source of Protein; Good Source of Vitamin B1; Good Source of Folic Acid; 0g Trans Fat; 100% real cheese”** “Made with organic pasta; NEW: Classic Mild Cheese Taste!; No Artificial Anything!”*
Kraft – “Good, sharp cheddar cheese; Mixed with macaroni and browned lightly on top; Golden rod powder sauce mix” “Now even cheesier! That’s why more kids and moms love the one in the blue box. Right down to the bottom of the bowl.” ***
Both Annie’s and Kraft offer whole wheat and organic options in addition to other dietary options such as Annie’s makes rice noodles. For this review and research I have basically compared parallel products.
For my own family we’re going to convert to homemade versions and buy less Macaroni & Cheese in bulk boxes.
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*Retrieved personally from the box.
** Retrieved from the Annie’s wedsite. [http://annies.elsstore.com/view/product/popup/?id=36272]
*** Retrieved from the Amazon Fresh website. [http://fresh.amazon.com/product?asin=B000PXZZQG&qid=97271793&rank=1&sr=1-1&tag=title]
1. http://www.purcellmountainfarms.com/Semolina%20Flour.htm 16 April 2011
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_phosphates 16 April 2011
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium_carbonate 16 April 2011
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_triphosphate 17 April 2011
5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartrazine 17 April 2011
6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunset_Yellow_FCF 17 April 2011
Summer is the President of our Local MOMS Club chapter, she is the mother of two adorable active boys, and is always thinking of ways to help others. She is a friend, a wife, and always busy as all mommies are. She is very active on Facebook, addicted to Geocaching and very interested in organic and green living.