How Healthy is Your Shopping Cart? New Database Rates Grocery Foods

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How healthy is your favorite cereal, bread, frozen pizza or go-to snack? And how does it compare with other brands crowding the supermarket shelves? Trying to figure that out can be daunting, but it just got a little less so. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization that has helped consumers parse everything from farm subsidies to cosmetics and cleaning-product toxicity, has just released a database of ratings,  Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, for more than 80,000 commonly sold grocery items, aimed at helping shoppers make "healthier, greener and cleaner food choices."

The EWG Food Scores database, which took more than three years to compile, offers a rating for each product on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best or cause for lowest concern and 10 being the worst or cause for most concern. ("Less is more," the site notes.) This overall product score is calculated based on more granular ratings of nutrition, ingredient and processing concerns, using a weighted formula in which nutrition is factored in the most heavily and the degree of processing the least, according to the EWG website. Fractional points are added for foods that are not certified organic or are only partially made from organic ingredients.

The online database is easily searchable and also navigable by categories, color-coded and augmented with detailed nutrition facts, ingredient lists, charts and other useful information. It's an easy way to figure out how that fancy brand of granola you've been purchasing all along stands up against that generic one you've been passing by. Even better, EWG’s Food Scores will soon be available as an app for mobile devices – meaning your smartphone can make you a smart shopper, and a healthier one, too.

Amy Reiter also contributes to FN Dish.

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