Understanding food labels

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A trip to the grocery store is not just getting a cart and grabbing some grub, at least not if you want to be careful about what’s in your food.

You might need a dictionary to figure out just what all of those labels really mean.

Lots of folks are into gluten-free food, either because they can’t eat gluten or because they just like to roll that way.

The Food and Drug Administration says anything labeled Gluten Free cannot have more than 20 parts per million of gluten. That’s the protein in wheat, barley, and rye.

But even that amount of gluten may hurt folks who are gluten-intolerant.

Then there’s free range chicken or eggs.

Free Range simply means the bird was not kept in a cage. It roamed free until someone killed it. But not on the range, like home on the range. It just wasn’t cramped in a cage with lots of other chickens.

Grass Fed cattle means just that: cattle fed on grass for most of their lives, primarily in pastures, not in feedlots where they get corn and other grains.

If you like to buy local, check the label.

But Local doesn’t mean just down the street, and there’s no industry standard definition. In fact, local could be anywhere from 100 to 400 miles away.

That’s like from Houston to Laredo.

Then there’s that whole All Natural thing,  as in no artificial colors, no fake flavors, nothing made in a laboratory.

Again, there’s no government regulation defining the term natural, so you could still end up getting genetically modified foods or foods that contain antibiotics or growth hormones.

And that can be pretty scary food for thought.

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