Need some help with those ingredients lists? There’s a food app designed to break them down, so you don’t have to!
Reading the ingredients lists on your food labels can be dizzying. Those blocks of text full of polysyllabic ingredients could just be a list of real food items or include nasty additives. That’s why I was happy to run across Edibly: a cool food app that helps do the deciphering for you!
Of course, cooking from scratch is the healthiest way to feed yourself and your family, but sometimes we need to go for convenience, and if you’re stuck staring at boxes and cans, a little help can go a long way.
How Edibly Rates Food
Edibly is a personal project by developer Alex Bekker. He added the free food app to the iPhone and Android app stores because he thought other folks might find it as useful as he does.
I did a micro-interview with Bekker on Twitter and asked him where he gets his criteria for healthy food. He says the food app’s ingredient ratings are based on:
Edibly uses a traffic light system to rate ingredients for health and safety. The only thing it doesn’t do is suss out GMO ingredients, so if that’s important to you, your best options are to choose organic or non-GMO certified foods. That way, you don’t have to worry about the GMO question.
My Edibly Test Run
I used Edibly to rate a few foods in my pantry: a can of Planter’s mixed nuts, some premade baby food that we had left from holiday travels, and a jar of Earth Balance peanut butter. Here’s how it went:
As you can see, it didn’t recognize hazelnuts. Bekker says he’s still adding foods, so over time there will be fewer greyed-out ingredients.
Technically, lemon juice is processed, and it gets the green light because it’s still a healthy choice. The broccoli puree is greyed out but listed as actual food. I hope that broccoli puree is healthy, because I make pureed broccoli baby food for my little guy frequently!
I feel like this result is most representative of the app. Palm oil is an environmental disaster, and honestly I had no idea it was in this jar of peanut butter! I don’t know why I assumed it was made with coconut oil, but I’ll look for a different brand next time I’m shopping for sure.
Just as not all processed foods get the red light (see lemon juice above), the food app doesn’t give the frowny face to all oils. Olive oil, for example, gets a green smiley.
What I like most about this food app is that it breaks the ingredients out in a more readable way than a block of tiny text on the back of the box. Sifting through these reader-friendly results is much easier than squinting at the back of the box!
You can read the edibly blog and find links to download the food app on Bekker’s site. You can also find it through the App Store on your phone.