Food labels

I'm an oddity in today's supermarket. I stand there as if I were in the bookstore or the library, and I read food labels. I read food labels, even on foods that I've bought a hundred times before. I have to be sure. Did they change anything? Did they sneak something in on me? As other shoppers move down the aisle and on out of the store, I stand there in contemplation. Is this one better for me than that one or is it vice versa?

Now, the government is proposing to change food labels. They want to make the calories bigger. They want the serving sizes to be more realistic. They want to include more information about what's in the food. That's all good. It's important information, and I will certainly be reading it and weighing the benefits of this product versus that product.

But couldn't they make it easier? I mean, really. Does the grocery store need to be like a bookstore or the library?

Why not a simple stoplight system like they have in the U.K.? And put it right on the front of the package where I can see it at a glance. Red would mean, "Whoa! Stay away from this guy. Talk about unhealthy; that's what this product is." Yellow would mean to proceed with caution. It's not a vegetable or a fruit, but it's also not a cup of lard. It's somewhere in between.

And green. Ahhh! Sweet green. That would be the color, the stoplight position, that would fly into my cart. Green would mean it's low fat, low salt, low sugar, less processed, fewer unrecognizable ingredients and more like mother nature intended food to be. A package with green stoplights on the front of it would be a dream come true.

Of course, the food manufacturers of the yellow and red light items may not appreciate it. Then again, there's always the macho type out there who will buy those products simply because they aren't good for you. They like to show off their eating skills of high fat, high salt, high sugar foods and then proclaim, "Not dead yet!"

There's something for everyone, so there's nothing to fear.

But it sure would be nice to do stoplights on the front of those packages and help to speed up my grocery shopping a little.