Okra And Remembering To Read The Labels

I have a confession to make. I don’t much like okra. Maybe it’s from growing up in the northeast where I was not really exposed to it much as a child. Whatever the reason I mostly find it unappealing. I have discovered that I can tolerate it steamed, I despise it cooked, boiled, or fried. However, it’s not half bad when it’s pickled. It’s a pity that I don’t like it more because it’s low in calories, high in fiber, has a modest amount of protein, and provides vitamins A and C as well as iron and calcium.

Okra also has a mucilaginous quality that helps to escort cholesterol and bile acids out of the body. As an alkaline food it is also believed to help heal intestinal ulcers and be useful in the treatment of IBS.

When I was at the grocery store today I happened to spy a jar of pickled okra on the shelves. Since this is my least objectionable way to eat it I decided to try it again, scooped up a jar and finished my grocery shopping.


Unfortunately I ignored my own advice and I did not stop to read the label. After getting home I did read the label and it turns out these pickles contain polysorbate-80. I refuse to eat any ingredient that has a number (nature doesn’t number food). According to my Consumer Dictionary of Food Additives polysorbate-80 is an emulsifier “associated with the contaminant 1,4 dioxane, known to cause cancer in animals.” It is also “widely used in baby lotions, cold creams, cream deodorants, antiperspirants, suntan lotions and path oils.”

I’m not sure why these pickles need to be emulsified but I certainly don’t care to eat an ingredient also used in lotions and potions like cold cream. This serves as a personal reminder to ALWAYS read the label.

Needless to say I will be returning this to the store. I wonder what the counter clerk will say/think when I explain why I’m bringing it back.

photo courtesy of: Gerard Cohen | Wikimedia Commons

About Mira

Mira Dessy is The Ingredient Guru. A holistic nutrition professional, author, and a popular public speaker, she knows that it's not just what you eat, but what's in what you eat. She is the author of The Pantry Principle: how to read the label and understand what’s really in their food. Dessy is a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner whose mission is to educate and empower consumers. She curates the Lean Clean Green Subscription box, the premier, organic, earth-friendly, healthy, sustainable subscription box which can be found online at https://theingredientguru.memberbox.com