It’s late into the evening. You’ve had a long day at work or school. Your stomach grumbles so you direct your car towards the nearest neon lights and order with your hunger in mind and your health out the window.
This story isn’t uncommon in a time where family dinner is eaten in front of the television or in the car on the way to yet another activity. Many people do not think about what they’re eating or what companies and manufacturers put into food. Sagan Morrow wants to change that.
“It’s our basic human right to know what we’re eating and putting into our body” said Morrow.
Morrow is just about to get her degree in nutrition from Alive Academy, based in British Columbia, through correspondence. She’s also the executive director of the non-profit organization, The Food Label Movement.
In her words the organization exists “to lobby for improved food labeling regulations and to raise awareness about what is in the food we eat.”
Morrow and her friend, Nicole Choptain, who also studied nutrition came up with the idea for the non-profit a couple of years ago. They were frustrated by the fact that even though they were studying nutrition, reading food labels and getting useful nutritional information from them was difficult.
“We wanted to do a march at the Legislative building,” said Morrow.
Instead they opted to start a website called www.thefoodlabelmovement.org to raise awareness and encourage education on what is in our food.
It’s hard for Morrow to pin point one problem with the way people consume food, but there are three big things she’d like to see change on food labels: mandatory identification if a food is genetically modified, labeling showing how much added sugar there is versus natural in a food, and having ingredients larger and more prominent.
“Right now all of the ingredients are often in upper-case letters, which makes it hard to read and distinguish between ingredients,” said Morrow.
Many labels that boast their health also bother Morrow and The Food Label Movement. “The food industry is very deceptive. They make us think things are healthy when they aren’t,” said Morrow.
Morrow is also concerned by genetically modified foods, often referred to as GMOs, because we don’t know what affect they will have on people yet. “We aren’t eating whole food and foods from scratch. Even if we think we are eating healthy, we don’t really know,” said Morrow.
There are many reasons Morrow started The Food Label Movement, but the biggest reason she said people should care about what they eat is because of the serious affect it has on their health. “A lot of people’s diets are the reason why they are dealing with chronic diseases. It can make a huge difference to eat a little healthier and we’d have far less disease and healthier children,” said Morrow.
Registered nurse Tanya Strom thinks people have learned to read food labels better lately, but said if people watched what they ate in the first place society would have far less chronic disease.
“People often don’t think about what they eat until they’re sick and then they change their behaviour. If people just thought about what they were putting in their mouth we’d have far less chronic disease and healthier people,” said Strom.
Strom also notes that not knowing what’s in one’s food can be dangerous because of unknown allergies, sensitivities to food or additives, and unwanted interactions with medications.
Morrow suggests writing to the government, signing the petition on The Food Label Movement website, and just talking about what’s in food can be the start to a food revolution. Even though the organization is encouraging change, The Food Label Movement hasn’t experienced any push back from food companies yet.
“Yes, it could definitely be scary if one came up against us. Right now we’re small, but further down the line we need to be prepared for that and think about it,” said Morrow.