What’s Really In The Food You Eat?

Discovering what’s really in the food you eat can be depressing. You’ve surely heard that Americans eat as much as two pounds of insects per year without knowing it. But that seems pretty benign compared with the other stuff you may be ingesting. Pesticides, rodent droppings, way more fat than you had ever imagined… Fortunately there are web resources to scare you / gross you out / educate you about what you’re throwing down the hatch. This new information may not keep you from your favorite greasy spoon — nor should it — but it may help you choose some healthier or more sanitary options for your general snacking and dining.

Chow today linked to this handy roundup of local health departments. Many make their scores available online, but some require you to ask for them. This information is public, and the departments’ phone numbers and addresses are at least available, so if you’re really curious you can find out just what’s up with that weird aftertaste in your soup. Or you may not want to.

There are a lot of diet-related online tools to help you count calories and fat, but the USDA’s What’s In The Food You Eat is the most comprehensive we’ve found for counting not only the bad stuff, but the vitamins and minerals as well. It doesn’t list every single food in the world, but there’s a good overview.

You’re right to worry about pesticides in your food. Some of those things can be downright lethal. That’s their job, after all. Here’s an EPA write-up on their guidelines for pesticide levels in American foods. Additionally, the World Health Organization has this page on chemical risks in food, where you can check out global statistics.

How Many Insect Parts and Rodent Hairs are Allowed in Your Food? [Sixwise]
Restaurant Health Inspection Scores Online [Allfoodbusiness]
What’s In The Food You Eat [USDA]
Setting Tolerances for Pesticide Residues in Food [EPA]
Chemical Risks in Food [WHO]
Photo: Perceval de Mons [Flickr]

What’s Really In The Food You Eat?