It’s a Jungle Out There


About a week or so ago I was having a conversation with an acquaintence about the benefits of cranberry juice. She was looking for 100% cranberry juice and could not find it. I told her that 100% juice was out there but that not all stores carried it.

Then I got to wondering, was the 100% cranberry juice in the stores REALLY 100% cranberry juice? What if I was wrong and gave her inaccurate information? I was not 100% sure. So, I did what any self-respecting woman with a question does these days. I went to the internet.

What I discovered should not have surprised me. No matter what it says on the label there appears to be no true 100% cranberry juice out there.

After discovering this I thought of the theme song for the TV show Monk – It’s a Jungle Out There, words and music by Randy Newman. It could have been written with food labels in mind:

It’s a jungle out there
Disorder and confusion everywhere
No one seems to care
Well I do
Hey, who’s in charge here?

That is what I think of food labels. It’s a jungle out there. And it’s not just cranberry juice. It is everything. All food packaging is misleading and is nothing more than one big advertisement designed to make you buy the product. These labels do not provide much factual information to help you make informed decisions about the  food you purchase.

First, cranberry juice. On the front label one major brand says, “100% Juice.” Below it is says “Cranberry.” Above and below the words, “100% Juice,” are pictures of gorgeous cranberries and nothing else. What would you think was in this bottle?

It is not until you read the fine print underneath these words and on the Nutrition Label on the back of the bottle that you learn that this product is really made from a mix of 100% grape juice, cranberry juice, and apple juice concentrates.

Another brand that costs about one-and-a-half-times more than the brand in the above example is not really 100% cranberry juice as the front label would have you think either. It too is made from concentrate.

EZine Articles tells us that, “from concentrate” means that the juice was first dehydrated and then later reconstituted by mixing with water. EZine states that the additional processing oin making the concentrate harms the quality of the juice.’I don’t think that means it is unhealthy. It is just not as good as if you made your own juice. And who has time to do that?

Now I give both  these companies kudos for having a product that is 100% juice. That is certainly far better than these so called juices made from cocktail blends. Most of those may only have 1% of real fruit juice in them.

As mentioned above the EZine article also points out that the “100% juice on the label may not be [the juice] you are looking for. “Make sure that you get the fruit that you think you are buying,” they tell us. The ingredients are listed in the order of volume: the largest ingredient first and the smallest last.”

So the 100% cranberry juice I thought I was buying is mostly grape juice. Not bad for me. But not what I thought I was getting or, more importantly, not what I wanted. And the label does not say what percentage of the juice is actually made from cranberries. The second company only has cranberry juice from concentrate, so if that is the juice I want I need to buy that one.

And as I said, it is not just cranberry juice. A recent New York Times article dealt with a new report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest that states many food labels are totally and completely meaningless. If interested, you can read the full report, Food Labeling Chaos, here.

The New York Times lists six of the meaningless food label claims:

“Lightly-sweetened: Cereal packages often contain the phrase “lightly sweetened” to suggest less sugar. The Food and Drug Administration has regulations concerning the use of “sugar free” and “no added sugars” but nothing governing the claims “low sugar” or “lightly sweetened………”

A good source of fiber: A number of food marketers now claim their products are a good source of fiber, but C.S.P.I. notes that often the fiber doesn’t come from traditional sources — whole grains, bean, vegetables or fruit — known to have health benefits. Instead, food makers are adding something called “isolated fibers” made from chicory root or purified powders of polydextrose and other substances that haven’t been shown to lower blood sugar or cholesterol.

Strengthens your immune system: Through “clever wordsmithing,” food companies can skirt F.D.A. rules about health claims and give consumers the impression that a product will ward off disease, notes the C.S.P.I. report……………”

In my opinion below is one of the most egregious misleading claims:

“Made with real fruit: Often the “real fruit” is found in small quantities and isn’t even the same kind of fruit pictured on the package. Tropical fruit flavored Gerber Graduates Fruit Juice Treats show pictures of fresh oranges and pineapple. But the main ingredients are corn syrup, sugar and white grape juice concentrate. Betty Crocker’s Strawberry Splash Fruit Gushers don’t contain strawberries — just pear concentrate.

Made with whole grains: Many products make a whole grain claim even though they often contain refined flour as the first ingredient and the amount of whole grains are minimal……….”

Roberta’s Simple Rule:
Come to think of it, don’t believe too much on the back label either!!!!

Too, too often we are not eating what we think we are eating. We are not getting the food we think we are buying, and paying for, based on the package label.




Featured Recipe         Artichokes and Ham on Toast
This  is what you will need for 3 people:

½ – 8 ounce can artichokes (not marinated)* (see note below on leftovers)

½  lemon

3 tablespoons butter

3 slices of ham

3 slices toast

3 slices Swiss cheese

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Here is what you do:

Drain the artichokes very well and give them a rough chop.

Toast the bread and lightly butter.

Place a slice of ham on the toast.

Spoon some of the chopped artichokes on top of the ham.

Squirt a little lemon juice on the artichokes.

Add a slice of the Swiss cheese.

Sprinkle with a bit of the Parmesan or Romano.

Broil in the oven or a toaster oven for a minute or two until cheese begins to melt and the top gets slightly browned.

Serve with a side of vegetables and/or a salad. I made Quick Stewed Tomatoes to go with my open-faced sandwich. I could have bought canned, but I like using the fresh cherry tomatoes, celery, and onions.

VARIATION: If you have any left over tomato sauce, replace the butter with tomato sauce or a light layer of tomato paste 

Bon appétit!!!


½ can artichokes (not marinated)*     $1.35

½  lemon                                         $0.50

3 tablespoons butter                          $0.45

3 slices of ham                                  $1.50

3 slices toast                                     $0.45

3 slices Swiss cheese                         $1.35

2 tablespoons grated cheese              $0.37

Total Cost = $5.97

Cost per person = $1.99

*You can use the left over artichokes in a salad the next day or toss with some butter and cooked spaghetti.

Quote of the Day

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

Robert F. Kennedy


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