"You have several items here that would not pass the test," he said, throwing out my grape jelly.
"That's healthy!" I yelled, pointing to the "one-third less sugar" banner on the label.
"It has artificial coloring," he said. "Most jellies and jams on the shelves are artificially colored. They may have less sugar, but you'll be ingesting dyes and preservatives."
As I watched Grotto toss item after item into my garbage- I started to get angry. If these foods have so many preservatives and dyes, then why are they getting such prominent placement in our supermarkets?
"If it's advertised as a bargain, people often grab it for convenience," Grotto said. "Rarely do people ever read the labels of their foods," he added, throwing out my ketchup.
"Why are you throwing out my son's favorite food?" I asked.
He turned the label around and showed me two big no-no's: high fructose corn syrup and artificial red dye.
"A lot of parents think they have hyperactive kids, but it's actually a reaction to these foods," Grotto explains. "I often recommend that people try removing the items from their diet and seeing if they notice a difference."
Other offenders? Sugary fruit juice: "The actual piece of fruit is much better for you, and water for your thirst." Power bars or granola bars: "They can often be filled with fat, sugar and preservatives. Even the ones with 'natural' in the label. A better snack is to have a handful of almonds." Diet soda: "You're better off having a regular soda than drinking the diet products." (Most diet sodas contain aspartame, which produced formaldehyde as you digest it.)
After Grotto tossed out my cheese because the ones that are pre-sliced usually have preservatives, I was left with milk, a few blueberries and natural mustard.
"You're not a big produce fan, are you?" Grotto asked.
"Salads are too much work," I said.
"You should eat some sort of produce every day," he said. "Buy some carrots. They even package them cut up nowadays, for people on the go," he joked.
So what was my overall nutrition house call grade?
"C" said Grotto.
"I'm too busy to stop and read every label," I said in my defense. "I think most people are."