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How low can the ‘Lower Sodium’ go?

February 4, 2010

The other day I came across a great FREE app for the iPhone by the goodguide that is totally addictive for even someone like me who is only moderately green. is a database of products including foods, personal care, household cleaners and toys.  It rates them on a scale of one to ten (ten being the best) in areas of health, environmental and social responsibility.  There is a database of 50,000 products currently and more are being added.

The coolest thing for geeks like me is that you hold your iPhone up to a bar code on a product for a few seconds.. you hear a sonic beep.. and viola.. all the available information related to the products is displayed on your iPhone,outlining the good, the bad and the ugly!

Armed with a box of Lower Sodium Rice A Roni (I can already see Talia frowning disapprovingly at the product because she would probably make it from scratch) from my pantry, I put the barcode scanner to the test.  I scanned the box and a picture of the box appeared (see below).

Then I clicked on the ‘i’ and the product info revealed the the sodium in the ‘lower sodium’ product is too high (see below).

It also told me that the company received the lowest scores on water management compared to other companies (see below) but that it has few to no community-related controversies. A list of ingredients in the product was also displayed.

The app also tells you what harmful ingredients to avoid and allows you to mark a product as your favorite, add the product to your avoid list, see additional similar products and sometimes allows you to buy the product from Amazon.  The app works better on an iPhone 3GS than a 3G or lower because 3GS has a autofocusing camera and can read the barcode more clearly.

So the question is.. will I still eat it?  I guess I will if there is nothing better to eat around the house.  One thing is for sure, this weekend when I go grocery shopping, I will be comparing quite a few products for fun before I buy them.  It is possible that I may not buy something based on a poor rating from goodguide.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2010 9:30 am

    Michael Pollan’s food rules include: “Avoid food products that make health claims” — the reality of this “lower sodium” food makes his point pretty clearly!

  2. February 6, 2010 1:15 am

    I’d be more worried about the ingredients list! I have to look at things the old-fashioned way since my old skool iPod touch doesn’t even have a camera… But that is a cool app. If I had an iPhone, I’d only wish it’d work for bulk ingredients, since I was wondering about kamut earlier for my post and had to look 4 places!

    • February 6, 2010 8:35 am

      i don’t have an ipod either but i think that being able to check these things on the spot makes all the difference to usability. i have a book that reviews various companies and their environmental and ethical standards and when i bought it i thought i’d carry it around to look at whenever i bought anything but in reality thats just too much carrying around… the app would make all the difference. as for bulk ingredients, i bet there will be more and more stuff added to the list. though i don’t know how they’d handle whole grains without a bar code!!

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