The departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services yesterday announced new dietary guidelines for Americans that include eating less sugar, fat, and salt--no surprises there. But following such recommendations can be hard; many products labeled low in fat or high in fiber may also be brimming with sodium or additives. Nutritional labels don't always tell people what they need to know.
That's where Fooducate, a new iPhone app (Android version is "in the oven," the makers say) comes in. It uses the iPhone's camera to scan the bar codes on 200,000 food products in supermarkets and convenience stores.
It then brings up nutritional info--and not just the stuff required on the label. It also displays information about high-fructose corn syrup, food coloring, controversial additives like butylated hydroxytoluene, and healthier alternatives (instead of Super Sugar Choco Nugs, perhaps Grape Nuts?). The app's Web site uses as an example Apple Jacks cereal. It gets a D+ rating, which surprised me (something with fruit in the title must be good for you, right?!).
I wanted to try the app out, so I went to the kitchen of The Unicorn, a restaurant and bar in Seattle that yesterday served as my office. The first thing I spotted was a box of Twinkies, a favorite food from childhood that I sadly haven't had in years. I try to stay away from junk food and Twinkies are junk food, right? … Read more