Tips for Reading Food Labels

By Angela Sidlo/ Certified Health Coach and Co-op Board Member

Angela Sidlo for webMost packaged foods have a Nutrition Facts label. Here are some tips for reading the label and making smart food choices:

Check servings and calories. Look at the serving size and how many servings you are actually eating.  That bowl of chips you ate while watching the ball game could have been as much as 4 servings worth!  That means 4 times the calories too.

Make your calories count.  Look at the calories on the label and compare them with the nutrients they offer.  Tip: When you look at a food’s nutrition label, first check the calories, and then check the nutrients to decide whether the food is worth eating.
reading nutrition label for web
Eat less sugar.  Read the ingredient list, if sugars are one of the first few ingredients, put it back on the shelf. 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon.  The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends for men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons), women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons).  Tip: names for added sugars (caloric sweeteners) include sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup, and fructose.

Know your fats.  Look for foods low in saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol, for heart health.  Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as those in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.  My favorite good oils list includes olive, avocado, sesame, sunflower and organic canola oils.  Tip: goods fats should be in the range of 20% to 35% of the total calories you eat.

Reduce sodium (salt); increase potassium.  Research shows that eating no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day, the equivalent of about 3/4 teaspoon, reduces the risk of high blood pressure.  To meet the daily potassium recommendation of at least 4,700 milligrams, consume fruits and vegetables that are sources of potassium including: sweet potatoes, beet greens, white potatoes, white beans, prune juice, and bananas.  These counteract some of sodium’s effects on blood pressure.  When choosing salt, get himalayan or sea salt as they are high in trace minerals as well.

Use the % Daily Value (% DV) column: 5% DV or less is low, and 20% DV or more is high.

Keep these low: saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium.

Get enough of these: potassium and fiber, vitamins A, C, and D, calcium, and iron.
Check the calories: 400 or more calories per serving of a single food item is high.

To learn more about Angela Sidlo or to get in touch, check out her web site.

Growing Forward

By Matt Stanley/General Manager
Published in the Co-op’s Winter 2017 Newsletter

I recently ran into Sarah, a regular Co-op shopper. She was excited to share with me her recent visit to Lexington Co-op in Buffalo, New York. I was excited to hear this, as Lexington Co-op is a favorite of mine for several reasons, and I haven’t even been there before!

Sarah noticed that they had the same Co+op Deals and many of the same products as our co-op. The store was abuzz with customers and staff. She said the retail area was larger but that it was similarly crammed with great products everywhere she turned.

We know our store and parking lot are getting pretty cramped, especially during peak times. For staff, the back rooms and office are often challenging to keep organized and difficult to navigate. Space is the main reason we are seeking to expand our store in the near future. And our pending expansion and current sales growth is the reason I love Lexington Co-op.

Lexington achieved an expansion in their recent history, and we’ll be seeking to emulate them soon. Their co-op stands as an example of successful, well-planned growth. And it also continually reminds me of the importance of collaboration among cooperatives.

Store frontFor their expansion, the Lexington Co-op issued preferred shares to their owners and raised $2.5 million for their project. We’ve been working with them to plan our own campaign – they’ve shared campaign strategies and materials. So they’ve set a great example and exemplify collaboration.

I know lots of folks are wondering when we’ll launch our own capital campaign.  Lots of pieces have to come together for us to launch the campaign. But trust me, when we do launch the offering (most likely in 2017), Co-op owners will not be able to miss it! We’ll make a pretty big deal out of it, since it will be key to successfully building our own new co-op.

Oh, and the great deals that looked awfully familiar to Sarah? Co+op Deals are the result of a huge collaboration between 151 food co-ops operating over 200 stores across the country. Our small store in Astoria is able to offer competitive pricing (not just Co+op Deals) because we pool resources with other food co-ops! And our collaboration with these fellow cooperators does so much more. My favorite work with the staff of these other stores is the opportunity to learn from each other and develop our careers in the challenging but often rewarding natural foods world.

Finally, if you check out the Lexington Co-op webpage, you’ll see that they are already working on opening a second store! They surely are committed to growing the food cooperative movement! May we do the same in our store’s future!