a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Heads Up: We Shouldn't Take Product Labels For Granted

I had an enlightening  experience two weeks ago.  I went to my usual health food store to pick up my usual bottle of 100 percent black cherry concentrate.( It seems to be quite helpful in warding off a gout attack, which is something you want to ward off at all costs ---trust me on this.)

Since this is my fourth or fifth bottle of this same product and same brand  it was a simple matter to go pick up another from the shelf. Or so I thought . . .

Because the print was so small in this composite,
I darkened the information in
the sunburst-looking graphic on the front of each label

The labels are exact EXCEPT for a slight difference in wording. Even if I had noticed the new "juice concentrate" identification I would not have given it a second thought. At the most I would have thought it was just a change for a little clarification.  

What difference would the newly added words "juice concentrate" mean when you were looking at a bottle of black cherry concentrate (unsweetened)?

As it turns out ---- a major difference!!! 
( I am so thankful I still had my previous bottle for comparison, otherwise I would have thought I was losing my mind)

The original* label lists its ingredient: Black Cherry Juice Concentrate.

This new label lists  its ingredients in this order: Apple Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Grape Juice Concentrate, Cherry Juice Concentrate, Peach Juice Concentrate, Pear Juice Concentrate, Pomegranate Juice Concentrate, Black Current Juice Concentrate, Sodium Benzoate, and  Sodium Sorbate. 

How can this newly-formulated product be called, in big bold letters, Black Cherry Concentrate? Wouldn't Fruit Juice Concentrate be more accurate?

Further, the original* nutrition facts portion of the label lists the sugar content as 4 grams and zero sodium. The new label lists sugar at 13 grams and sodium at 10 grams. 

Even the two identification numbers (I don't know the official name) on the labels are identical to each other. 

I spent a long time searching the Internet, trying to locate information of the formula change. If it is there I sure couldn't find it. 

How can this be?  How can companies get away with something like this?  Probably because we let them. 

Sadly the manager of the store didn't seem at all concerned when I returned and pointed our the changes. 

Her comments consisted of "Apparently the company changed their ingredients" and "What do you want me to do." I told her I wanted a refund even though I had torn off the safety seal before noticing the change and suggested she notify the company."  She didn't seem to feel this deceptive labeling was a big deal. I did! She did give me the refund --- I have my doubts about her contacting the company.  I am!!

Once again the beloved children's character The Velveteen Rabbit can ask "What is Real?" It is getting more and more difficult to tell.

*I am using original to identify my first few bottles.

Update: At a second nutrition store we found both bottles side-by-side.  When we pointed the differences out to that manager she was surprised and concerned.  We bought the original. I hope she will follow up.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Finding the Freshest Produce

We have made it through another winter. Soon we will be able to eat tomatoes and other fresh items that actually have flavor.

What is FRESH?

Produce that has traveled in mass for long distances loses a lot of its nutrients and goodness during the journey.  To keep customers from realizing this, many unnecessary steps and additions are used in the effort to keep it all looking “fresh.” I am told the greatest efforts in the produce section of large markets is maintaining the look of freshness by trimming, plucking, spraying and soaking.

The most nutritious and most flavorful are 1) those plucked from your own yard or 2) those from  local farmer’s markets, produce stands, or small growers.

The freshest  (i.e.most nutritious)
have been living in the ground until very recently. 

What? No space for a garden? 
Maybe not a garden ---- but most likely one or two or even a few plants. Think of the joy of picking your own salad makings right outside your door.  Many vegetable plants can be potted. You don’t even need expensive containers. Use your imagination. They can sit on a tiny porch, or balcony, or be tucked in a corner. All they need is sunshine and water.

There are other advantages to small container projects. For probably less than the price of a package of seeds, you can buy a plant or two, already well-started and ready to re-pot in your container.  This gives you a jump on the season — and no weeding!

To give you some ideas check out my previous posts on

gardening in a bag 



gardening in bits and pieces