A lot of Americans think they're eating a healthy diet these days. But it's easy to be fooled by our assumptions and the ways that food manufacturers play on them.
Just in from the Wall St. Journal (PDF here in case):
They know we don't read the labels before we buy. Much less the fine print.
"Chicken." The average American eats about 90 pounds of it a year, more than twice as much as in the 1970s, part of the switch to lower-fat, lower-cholesterol meat proteins. But roughly one-third of the fresh chicken sold in the U.S. is "plumped" with water, salt and sometimes a seaweed extract called carrageenan that helps it retain the added water. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says chicken processed this way can still be labeled "all natural" or "100% natural" because those are all natural ingredients, even though they aren't naturally found in chicken...
"...So-called enhanced or "plumped" chicken has between 200 and 400 mgs of sodium per serving, almost as much as a serving of fast-food french fries..."
"Wheat bread." This is a meaningless term, since almost all bread is made with wheat. Some manufacturers add to the illusion by using a brown wrapper or darkening bread with brown sugar or molasses. The more healthful stuff is whole wheat, which includes the outer bran and the wheat germ inside, good sources of nutrients and fiber. Check the ingredients. If the first one listed is "enriched wheat flour," you aren't getting much whole grain...
"Trick you with old food pyramid" A few bread makers are still displaying the USDA's old Food Pyramid on their packages -- the one that recommended six to 11 servings of bread or pasta a day. That's been replaced by a more individualized pyramid that recommends only six carbohydrate servings, three of which should be whole grains.