I am an ingredient reader. I like to know what's going into my body and my family's bodies. I've read a fair bit about nutrition, so I'm actually able to figure out what the ingredients mean!! (by the way, the shorter the ingredient list and more understandable the words, the better!).
I am always amazed at what companies can get away with. Labels are getting a lot better, but consumers are still getting hosed a lot of the time. Take the whole issue of oils/fats right now. It used to be almost impossible to find products without hydrogenated oils (otherwise known as "vegetable oil shortening) in them. It's getting a lot better. Because "0 Trans Fats" is in now, you'll see it in big letters all over the place, but many times they're still using hydrogenated oils...just not "partially hydrogenated". Or sometimes they'll use the cheapest, least healthy, or most pesticide-ridden, "refined" oils possible...like cottonseed oil. But lots are switching to canola oil and soybean oil, some of the "best" in polyunsaturated fat. But now, I'm learning that these fats aren't necessarily the best for your body as they can put quite a drain on your system just trying to metabolize them (and they can go rancid in your body because they don't stand up well to higher temperatures?!!) and actually saturated fats, in particular virgin coconut and palm oils are very healthy for you, functioning as anti-oxidants, anti-viral/bacterial agents, aids to metabolism and thyroid function and much more! However, if these oils are ever listed on a product, the chances are they've been modified and "wrecked" in some way.
Anyways, enough about oil. I've run into a dilemma as an ingredient reader: what do you do when you've been buying something for awhile and then you find out what the ingredients are or when you've been buying according to price or convenience, and then you start getting more health-conscious again? Arrgh! It's a bugger! I just discovered that my $9/kg frozen chicken breasts have corn syrup in them as well as spice extracts (which could include MSG)...both things that I avoid whenever possible. Plus, we've grown to like a bread done in-store at Extra Foods/Superstore because it is cheap enough to actually buy and it doesn't taste like cardboard or look so square. But it has hydrogenated vegetable oil in it. Sometimes knowledge is good and sometimes it's just plain harder...(and then start adding in the impact on the environment, where it's grown, if it's been genetically modified or hormonally supplemented and you start going crazy!) I try to keep everything in perspective, but it's not always easy.
Here is my final ingredient rant: I was buying these perfect-sized 250 mg Vitamin C from Shopper's for my kids. They loved them. I never thought of looking at the ingredients. After all, they're vitamins...they're supposed to be healthy, right? One day, I happened to check the label....Aspartame! I immediately stop giving them any and pick up a new kind, the only choice being a 500 mg. Could've chosen grape juice or tropical. Chose tropical because I think it was on sale. Didn't look at the label. Checked at home...sucralose! Well, at least I haven't heard it's as bad. But I still won't buy that again.
So, the lesson is, check the labels on everything! And then choose the least of the many evil options available... (Okay, maybe evil is a little strong...)