What’s on the Label? at Dominguez

For my last week at Dominguez, we explored what to find on a food label. A food label is any information found on the back of food packages. This includes the name of the product, it’s net weight, the manufacturers address, a nutrition label and a list of ingredients. I had 20 different products with food labels to compare and all had their essential 5 parts. Most parts of the label were pretty straightforward, with the exception of the nutrition label. We learned how to read a nutrition label, specifically focusing on taking serving size into account and defining calories. We looked at some of the products in front of us and discussed how misleading the serving sizes can be. For example, on the back of a Reese’s Puffs cereal box, it recommends a serving size to be 3/4 of a cup. We agreed that this was probably half of a typical serving size. Then, the nutrition facts state that there are 120 calories, without milk, and 160 with SKIM milk. We discussed that this is also probably inaccurate as most students in the class prefer to drink 2%. We concluded that General Mills’ recommendation for cereal would be 160 calories, though realistically it’ll be around 350!

Next we examined more of the front labels and looked to see if there were any consistencies. There is so much more on a label than those 5 necessary parts and we found that each label was making some claim about their product. Claims on food labels are categorized to be either subjective (comparison or opinion) or objective (factual, verified); however, both are legal as long as they can’t be disproved. One peanut butter label said it was “America’s favorite brand” while a Progressive soup said it was “light” and 50% less calories than the leading brand and a Gatorade bottle stated it was “naturally flavored with other natural flavors”. Though these claims are vague and perhaps misleading, they are not incorrect in terms of what is allowed to be stated on a label, therefore labels like these remain. We discussed THAT organic, non gmo, fair trade, and kosher labels all hold more value because they go through strict processes to earn that label.

At the end of class, students broke up into groups and designed a food label for a bag of chips, including all 5 components and either a subjective or objective food. I was blown away by their creativity. Here are some that they came up with!

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freetoes

hot beetos

sweet onion

Lastly, we harvested some seeds out of a giant sunflower!

sunseeds

Lindsay De May

My love for food and enriching food systems has brought me to LA after graduating in May from Syracuse University with a degree in Food Studies, concentrating on food politics and governance. I grew up gardening with my family in New Mexico, spent a summer working on an organic produce farm in New York, and spent three years as a teaching assistant for food science, locavorism and culinary arts classes. I look forward to incorporating my experiences in developing an exciting curriculum for my elementary and high school courses, with the hope that I'll inspire them to appreciate food the way I do!