Coming Soon to Your Favorite Foods: The New Nutrition Facts Label

nutrition facts label on a potato chip bag

Why is the label being updated?

Hard to believe it has been over two decades since the label was last updated — especially when you consider all the new research that has been published surrounding obesity and chronic illness in the United States and its correlation to an unhealthy diet. By January of 2020, food manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual sales will be required to comply with the new label.

The edits to the label are being enacted to better educate consumers on their dietary choices, and hopefully remedy the current consumer issue of label literacy. A study provided by Label Insight concluded that 67% of consumers find it difficult to determine if a product meets their nutritional needs, simply by looking at the label. Equally as shocking, almost half (48%) of consumers are left feeling uninformed about what they are consuming, even after reading a product label.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) directed the FDA to change the labeling so consumers can be smart about their diet. The FDA is in charge of these updates, and the motivations behind the changes are based on results from scientific studies, research in the public health sector as well as expert recommendations. These updates will provide the information you need to make better dietary decisions for yourself and your families.

“Our intent is to update our existing educational materials and create new educational opportunities to explain the overall role of using the label to assist consumers in maintaining healthy dietary practices, with an emphasis on each of the new changes of the label.” –FDA

How to best read the new label

Surveys conducted by both the International Food Information Council Foundation and the American Heart Association show that only 28% of consumers say that nutritional information is easy to find on current packaging. The D2D team wanted to create a helpful reference illustrating where to locate specific nutritional information on the label, and tips on how to apply this to your daily diet.

Click here to download!

Details on the changes

Formatting updates. The FDA determined that several pieces of information on the label are of utmost importance for consumers to know, such as calories and serving size, thus you will see an increase in font size and boldness.

Serving Size changes. Since 1993, when our current nutrition label was created, the amount that people eat and drink has significantly changed. It is all too easy to eat an entire container not realizing that the nutritional facts are for more than one serving. Soda is a perfect example. The package size of a soda can has changed from 8 to 12 ounces, and we now see a 20-ounce size on the grocery store shelves. The new serving sizes will reflect more realistically what a person consumes in one sitting.

Daily Value updates. The Institute of Medicine has concluded that nutrients such as fiber, vitamin D, and sodium should all be looked at as a percentage of daily value (%DV), to better understand each nutrient within the context of your daily diet.

Definition and addition of “added sugars”.  Added sugars are sugars that are added to foods “during processing or are packaged as such.” This is not to be confused with the sugars that are naturally occurring. A series of expert groups, including the American Heart Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine, and the World Health Organization, have recommended decreasing the intake of added sugars to no more than 36 grams per day for men and 24 grams per day for women. You need to count added sugars as part of your total daily intake. For details on how your body digest sugar check out Sugar is Sugar is Sugar.

Addition of Vitamin D and Potassium. The CDC conducted a nationwide survey showing that the U.S. population is deficient in both vitamin D and potassium. Vitamin A and C will no longer be required on the label (but can voluntarily be included as companies see fit), as deficiencies in these two nutrients are rare.

Fats. The FDA will continue to require the Total fat, Saturated fat and Trans fat, while Calories from fat will no longer be a necessity. This is due to scientific conclusions that the type of fat is more important than the amount of fat.

Footnote Change. The footnote will now read “*The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice”, to clarify what percent daily value means.

D2D On the Farm: The Row We Hoe

Fresh vegetables from Hindinger Farm

2018 Farm Income is at a 12-Year Low

You might be surprised to learn that the family farm still prevails! 99% of the farms in the United States are family-owned, and these farms account for approximately 89% of total farm production.

But the bigger picture of American agriculture is sobering. A volatile commodity trading environment, higher operating costs, and lower crop prices have farm income forecasts at a record 12-year low.

The effect of these factors, which are beyond a farmers control, ripple down to the grocery store. For every dollar consumers spend on food at the supermarket, the farmer receives just 14.8 cents.

“The prices that farmers have been receiving for their products aren’t paying the bills, and too many are being forced to give up farming.” – National Farmers Union

The Row We Hoe – Hindinger Farm

On a broad vista of 120 acres in New Haven County, Connecticut, fourth-generation Hindinger Farms grows a variety of fruit and vegetable crops from early spring until late fall. Seven days a week, fourteen hours a day, George prepares the fields, nurtures the plants, weeds, keeps crop pests at bay and harvests the crops. Liz takes care of the farm stand, finances, and marketing.

As with many smaller farms, the costs of running their farm can sometimes exceed the income they produce from growing and selling their fresh fruits and vegetables. These substantial costs include insurance, electricity, fuel, loan payments, equipment, labor, irrigation, seeds, nursery stock and much more. So, they are always looking for ways to increase revenue and get people to eat more fruits and vegetables!

The Hindingers – Anne, George, and Liz run the 4th generation family farm in Hamden, Connecticut. The farm produces vegetables and fruits from May through November.

The Dirt-to-Dinner team chatted with the Hindingers to get a better sense of their farm and operations.

D2D: Tell us about the beginnings of Hindinger Farm.
HF: Our grandparents emigrated from Germany in the 1890s, bought the farmland, and started raising turkeys, pigs, and a few vegetable crops. They did all the farm work themselves and would sell at the wholesale market in New Haven. In 1955, Liz and George’s father expanded farm production by adding more fruits and vegetables.

Picking strawberries at Hindinger Farm, 1914

D2D: Do you grow with organic or conventional methods?
HF: Actually, for over 30 years we have practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which you could consider the best combination of the two. IPM allows us to prevent pest damage to fruits and vegetables while minimizing pesticide use.

We regularly test our soil, rotate crops and scout the fields for pest damage to stay ahead of their cycle. We utilize the resources of the Connecticut Agricultural station to help identify and manage crop pests. Fallow fields are cover-cropped to nourish the soil, and beneficial plants are planted alongside crops to help produce a healthy and biodiverse ecosystem.

Kale and Collards — two late-season crops.

D2D: Do you require seasonal labor?
HF: Yes, we hire H2-A workers from Jamaica. We provide housing, transportation and comply with the rules and regulations of The Immigration and Nationality Act. These workers are vital to our operation as without them we would not be able to farm. We cannot find local labor to work long hours, come back season after season, and genuinely care as much about our farm.

D2D: There is an upward trend in consumers’ desire for buying locally-grown food, and research forecasts that this trend will continue as consumers demand transparency and sustainability. What do you think of this?
HF: We earn the majority of our income by selling directly to consumers through our farm stand and seasonal Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions.

But, we live in a town of 60,000 people and have approximately 300 CSA subscriptions. So, consumers are shopping elsewhere or not eating enough fruits and vegetables! This may be out of convenience, time constraints, or a better price point in the grocery store, but the reality is you cannot compare the freshness and variety of locally-grown produce with that you find in a grocery store.

“We estimate that if our customers would spend just $5 more per week on produce, we could be ahead of our expenses.”

Sweet corn – a summertime favorite.

D2D: How do you try to differentiate yourself to bring in more customers?
HF: We are the farmers, and the people who meet us can get honest answers on anything they ask. We work the same soil as our great-grandparents did, and think that heritage resonates with a lot of people. We also sell vegetables from other farms, milk and cheese, jams, jellies, and gift items to help customers get more shopping done in one place.

George Hindinger promotes the annual strawberry festival on Connecticut Local TV

D2D: How have you adapted to social media?
HF: A social media presence on Facebook, Google Search, and even Tripadvisor have helped bring in customers to our farm. People and families have fun when they are here: they meet us, can visit with our petting goats, and enjoy a tractor ride or tour of the farm. And they go home with fresh fruits and vegetables to feed their family.

D2D: What else do you do to bring more customers to the farm?
HF: We host our famous Strawberry Festival every June, with ice cream, face painting, and music. The festival is excellent exposure and brings in many people outside the community to learn about our farm. We also host a fall harvest where we make and sell apple cider and sell lots of apples, pumpkins, gourds, squashes, and any other fall vegetables in season.

The Hindingers grow the most delicious peaches!

D2D: What will you plant differently this year than last?
HF: Every year we grow something different for our CSA customers. Maybe it’s a new type of squash, bean or tomato. The seed companies always have a great selection in January when we do our seed purchasing. Additionally, we will be growing more cut flowers this year so that people can have a fresh bouquet adorning the dinner table.

D2D: Farming is a lot of hard work. Why do you do it?
HF: We love the farm, the land, and our community.

D2D: What about the next generation – will they assume the farm?
HF: At this time, we are still working with the next generation to carry on with the farm. They have witnessed our struggles, good years and not so good years, and are not sure they want the same life. But we remain optimistic: as we modernized the farm and brought it into the age of technology, our children have the opportunity to take the farm again to the next level.

Do you know a farmer who would like to share their story? Let us know at

Saving Chocolate, One ‘Kiss’ at a Time

chocolate chunks

Cocoa’s Dilemma

Our sweet tooth is facing a quandary: while chocolate is one of the world’s most favorite sweets, cacao is grown and harvested in some of the poorest and most ecologically sensitive regions of the world. At the expense of some of the most biodiverse flora and fauna, the destruction of rainforests especially in Western Africa where 70% of cacao is grown, has occurred as mostly small-holder farmers try to capitalize on earning just cents per day.

The impact of ineffective farming techniques, poor environmental management, increasing dry spells and lack of water has led to weakened plants more susceptible to pests and disease. In addition, political conflicts, cartels, and government intervention compromise efforts for sustainable management.

While the future of the cacao tree looks dim, the World Cocoa Foundation has over 100 supply chain members from farmers, warehouses, manufacturers, and retailers, who collaborate on solutions to save the cacao tree, protect vast tracts of rainforests, and improve the livelihoods of cacao growers.

But the elephant in the room is biotechnology. Will consumers eat chocolate that has come from a genetically modified plant? For over 30 years, Penn State, through their endowed cacao research program, has focused on biotechnology as a way to positively impact the challenges facing cacao cultivation. The University of California is working with candy giant Mars on gene editing technology to enable cacao to not only to survive but thrive in a drier, warmer climate.

A Pro-GMO chocolate brand emerges

A Fresh Look is a consortium of over 1,600 U.S. family farmers who invite consumers to learn more about the farmer behind their food. Each of these farmers uses genetically-engineered crops to grow safe, healthy food using less water, land energy, and pesticides.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, A Fresh Look has come up with a clever chocolate promotion called Ethos Chocolate to bring attention to not only the plight of the cacao tree but also to the crops that have been saved through the use of biotechnology.

“We want to help educate the public on the value of GMO farming and the positive impact biotechnology can have on a local and global scale, like slashing pesticide use an average of 37 percent worldwide,” said Rebecca Larson, A Fresh Look’s lead scientist. “We want people to enjoy these delicious chocolates but also take a fresh look at GMOs.”

The 4,000 promotional chocolate bars were quickly scooped up– the D2D team couldn’t even get any! Each flavored bar tells a story about a beloved and important fruit where technology has played a “heroic role in solving a real-world food challenge.”


The Only Thing Better Than Chocolate Now is Chocolate Forever.
That’s Our Ethos: (Ethos Chocolate)

The “Hero” is orange flavored to highlight citrus greening disease that threatens the entire Florida citrus crop.

The “Optimist” is an all-chocolate bar created by sustainably grown cacao trees.

The apple flavored “Trendsetter” demonstrates the non-browning apple that stays fresh longer to help reduce food waste.

The “Survivor” illustrates the Cinderella story of how genetic engineering saved the entire Hawaiian papaya industry from ringspot virus.

“I know first-hand how challenging it is to maintain cacao orchards,” said Eric Reid, a cacao grower and owner of Spagnvola Chocolatiers, the company that produced the limited run on Ethos Chocolate. “As a single-estate chocolatier, I understand how the finest chocolates are derived from the hands of farmers. We must take care of the cacao plant if we want to continue enjoying one of the world’s most cherished foods.” (FoodBev Media)

What do you think? Could you face a world without chocolate? Or have it be as scarce or expensive as caviar or truffles? Would you support GM technology to save the cacao tree?

Bud Light – Foul Play!

bud light commercial of king delivering corn syrup

Dear Bud Light,

You aired an ad campaign around the notion that corn syrup is not used in your brewing process and thus your beer is superior to your corn-syrup using competitors. The ad vilified corn syrup and left farmers frustrated by the deceitful marketing.

Consumers were led to believe that Bud Light is the healthier option. Super Bowl viewers across the country were left to question: is the beer I am drinking full of corn syrup?

What’s Really Brewing in that Brew?

Well, let’s rewind for a second. This is the very question that Bud Light wanted you to ask.

The facts are this: all beer is made by fermenting sugars derived from starch, primarily barley, wheat, corn or rice. No matter what the source, during the fermentation process the glucose (sugar) is converted into alcohol through the use of yeast, leaving alcohol in the beer, NOT sugar.

The fact that sugar is brought up at all as a differentiator between one type of beer or another is a moot point because there is virtually no sugar remaining after the fermentation process— in any type of beer!

Miller Lite responded by showing calorie count and carb count as the true measure of health of one brand over the other, a better indicator of overall quality as it relates to our health.

The #Corntroversy

The concern over this fear-based marketing ruse, however, spans far beyond just the beer drinkers. The producers of corn and corn syrup are not taking this one laying down. Corn farmers across America were swift in their response to the ads. The National Corn Growers Association tweeted


(* Miller Lite’s correct twitter handle is @MillerLite – a correction the NCGA made in a subsequent tweet)

So, what starch is used in the Bud Light fermentation process? Rice! Incidentally, Anheuser-Busch is the largest purchaser of rice in the United States! And they use corn starch in some of their other beer products, as well. According to Ricepedia,

“The brewing company Anheuser-Busch is the largest purchaser of U.S. rice, buying about 8% of the annual crop. The brewing giant owns its own rice mills in Arkansas and California. Budweiser, its most popular beer brand, uses rice as an adjunct. Rice and corn flour are used in other Anheuser-Busch beers.”

Like we saw with Juice Press, Stonyfield, and Hunt’s Ketchup, Bud Light is trying to scare consumers away from the competition for their own benefit. But at what cost?

U.S. corn farmers produce the most corn globally. Key states like Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska depend on corn farming to provide for their families and support the local and national economy. From 2016 to 2017, 1.07 billion tons of corn was harvested. Condemning these hard-working corn farmers to push an agenda and further confuse consumer health beliefs just isn’t what we expect from a large consumer products company with home operations smack in the middle of the corn belt.

Beer makers have come out to support grain farmers.

Since when is drinking alcohol healthy?

There’s an issue here that is even more simple than questioning the fermentation process or which brand is superior to another. When Chris Mohr Ph.D., R.D., one of Men’s Health’s nutritional advisors was quoted about the commercial controversy, his answer was: “Rather than being concerned or arguing about the type of sweetener used to brew beer, worry about how much beer you’re drinking”. We couldn’t agree more with this perspective!

So, Bud Light, next time you want a catchy, memorable 30-second spot on the screens largest stage, how about you stick to the facts—dilly dilly?