My older son started speaking when he was about nine months old; by 12 months he was a chatty toddler asking innumerable questions, pretty much all the time. At around 2 years of age, he got curious about traffic lights and asked about them whenever we stopped at one. So, we then started learning about the meaning of red, orange, and green signals. Within a few weeks, he became proficient in interpreting the traffic light color code.
Using traffic light coding in the context of food is not new. As a food/beverage analyst I came across this system in restaurant menus, health books, and health coaching programs. A few researchers have even expounded on the benefits of creating a traffic light system for the packaged foods to identify the good, the moderate, and the ugly so that consumers can quickly choose foods that are good for them. Britain, in 2012, came very close to implementing traffic light color coding universally on the food products, but only a few companies adopted it. So, this TLC system is not new in terms of concept. Maybe I join a growing minority who are trying to motivate people to eat healthier through this easy, seemingly childish color coding system. But my confidence in this system prevails for its simplicity as well as its effectiveness in keeping people safe on the road. Imagine crossing a red light or not moving on a green light. Not following these rules can wreak havoc and result in accidents.Therefore, traffic lights keep us accountable in following traffic rules.
When I started this blog, I was trying to come up with a name that would help me share my diverse experiences with food. As shared in My Story , the essence of this blog is COOK MORE, COOK RIGHT and that could have been a perfect name for this blog as well. But I wanted something easy and common that everybody could connect with; a system that could promote accountability in making food choices and developing food-related habits. One day while brainstorming for a name for the blog, a fond memory flashed in my mind–my two-year-old learning about the traffic light system.
In the context of food on this blog the traffic light color coding provides a quick visual aid in understanding what is good and what is not for our health. I use my personal and professional experiences with food in arriving at the color coding.
- I worked as a food and beverage analyst for nearly a decade, where I analyzed food/beverage consumption habits among (U.S.) consumers, read virtually most food/beverage labels (in the U.S.), and studied major scientific studies linking food and health.
- To further bolster my knowledge I pursued a certificate in plant-based nutrition from eCornell–a course taught by the China Study author, T. Collin Campbell.
- In labeling something green, amber, or red, I often present ideas backed by science and health authorities.
- I grew up eating real food and have cooked that way for nearly two decades. I have personally experienced the benefits of eating nutritionally-dense food in my personal life. (please see My Story)
But all the knowledge about how good or bad a food ingredient is would be immaterial if we don’t act on it. To that end, this blog also motivates you to prepare your own meal—the best way to control the quality of ingredients in our food (please see Busy People Cook).
Last but not the least, the blog offers a number of detailed recipes created with fresh ingredients. The recipes don’t have any color coding, as they mostly fall in the GREEN category.