Guiding Stars: We are in more places than you think!

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Guiding Stars, the first in-store nutrition navigation program, originated in 2006 at Hannaford in 167 stores. Over the past 4 ½ years, retail store growth has been steady and today the Guiding Stars program can be found in over 1600 stores in 20 states with even more locations by year end.

Guiding Stars, originally developed with grocery retailing in mind, has spread its wings and moved into other venues as well and can now be found in schools, colleges and universities, vending machines, and hospitals.

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Who’s got the best Chili?

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When a local group, The Windham Community Garden, put together a benefit ‘Great Chili Challenge’ to raise funds for their cause, I knew we had to enter. I volunteer with another community group, the Windham Raymond Wellness Council, which strives to encourage families and kids to make healthy food choices through promoting 5210 Let’s Go! and similar efforts with support from the Lakes Region Healthy Maine Partnership.

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Jack LaLanne – A Guiding Stars Kind of Guy

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Jack LaLanne, the “Godfather of Fitness”, recently passed away at the ripe, old age of 96. Jack was an inspiration to several generations of Americans (including me) with his energetic advocacy for fitness and good nutrition on his long running television exercise show.

LaLanne’s personal story is a fascinating one. As a young child, he was sickly and addicted to sugar. He and his mother attended a Paul Bragg seminar that changed his life. Bragg described the importance of eating correctly and exercising, and from that moment forward LaLanne was hooked.

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Guiding Stars Food Finder (BETA)

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Guiding Stars just celebrated our 4th anniversary by releasing the new search engine Food Finder into public beta. The search engine allows shoppers to search for any of 50,000 foods in the Guiding Stars database and view the zero, one, two or three star nutrition rating for that food.

Shoppers are encouraged to have conversations about food, exchange ideas and share ratings. You can write a review on a food item by logging in to the Food Finder using your email address, Facebook or Twitter account.

I recently sat down with John Eldredge, Director of Brand and Business Development at Guiding Stars to share some user questions…

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Dinner with the “Stars”

You toss your backpack on the shelf, swipe your ID at the entrance, and grab a plate. Knocking into other students as you weave your way through the dinner rush, you send out a mass-text message to see where your friends are sitting. You pile a couple of slices of pizza on your plate because they’re a quick choice and you’re trying to get to that 6:40 review session for your nail-biting exam tomorrow.

You’re a college student trying to stay nourished in a fast-paced, multitasking society, and you don’t have time to plan the perfect meal.

At the University of New Hampshire (UNH), this is where Guiding Stars comes to the rescue, giving “fast” food a new meaning…

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10 Surprisingly Unfamiliar Nutrition Facts Label Facts

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The ubiquitous nutrition facts label. Mandated by the FDA and required on most pre-packaged food sold for public consumption, the nutrition facts label is meant to serve as a guide to a specific product’s ingredients based on an average 2,000 calorie a day diet.

Although the FDA sets specific and explicit guidelines (down to the typeface and font size to be used), there remains room for ambiguity.

Moreover, did you know that restaurant and packaged foods can actually have more calories than what is indicated on the nutrition label? Studies have found that the worst offenders are side dishes — sometimes exceeding the restaurant’s reported calorie content by as much as 200 percent. In fact, a recent study published in the Review of Agricultural Economics, found that fast food meals are actually smaller and have fewer calories than the food served at restaurants.

All of that aside here are 10 little known facts about the nutrition facts label:

  1. Foods with less than five calories meet the definition of “calorie free”
  2. If fat is present at a level below 0.5 g, the level of fat is expressed as 0 g
  3. The term serving or serving size means an amount of food customarily consumed per eating occasion by persons 4 years of age or older
  4. The serving size for maraschino cherries is one cherry
  5. Manufacturers determine the accuracy of the nutrient contents of their own product(s). See: Restaurant and Packaged Foods Can Have More Calories Than Nutrition Labeling Indicates
  6. The FDA does not check for the accuracy of product labeling (but will occasionally collect “surveillance” samples to monitor the accuracy of nutrition information)
  7. The FDA does not maintain a database of nutrition information, but instead reviews and accepts industry databases
  8. For products usually divided for consumption (e.g., cake, pie or pizza), the serving size shall be the fractional slice of the ready-to-eat product (e.g., 1/12 cake (tiny piece), 1/8 pie (tiny slice), 1/4 pizza – usually two slices)
  9. Sulfites are considered incidental ingredients and need not be listed among the label’s ingredients
  10. Allergens other than the eight major food allergens are not subject to FALCPA (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act) labeling requirements. FALCPA’s labeling requirements do not apply to a sandwich that was prepared by say, a deli or a restaurant. Incidentally, the eight major food allergens as defined by the FALCPA are: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans.

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Announcement from Guiding Stars: It’s Finally Here!

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It’s official! The new Guiding Stars website has launched and we’re excited by the great response it has received so far. The new website has a streamlined look, full social media integration including Facebook Connect, and features a blog offering the latest health and nutrition news, with contributors ranging from mothers to nutritionists. We welcome more feedback and encourage you to share your suggestions and submit blog posts.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the launch – all of our readers, subscribers, commenters, remixers, and of course to our amazing bloggers: Sarah Wallace, Jen McNally, Nicki Hicks, Lori Kaley, John Eldredge, Stefan Pinto, Heather Parker DeSimone, Heather Wasklewicz, Melanie Hansen, Erin Dow, Angie Muhs, Amanda O’Brien, Steve Clifton, and Jon Plodzik. Here’s to more interesting content and genuine discussions in Guiding Stars 2010.

Great work from the Guiding Stars team, Guiding Stars Street Team, and Shines and Jecker.

Latest Press Release

Guiding Stars® Celebrates the Relaunch of a Healthier, More User-Friendly Website
We’re building our online community by launching a healthier, more user-friendly website, with a community of dedicated bloggers, new social media tools and a healthy recipe contest.

Contest

WIN a week’s worth of FREE groceries!

Share your creative recipe idea for healthy eating before, during and after the “big game” in February. If your recipe gets 3 Guiding Stars you are automatically entered to WIN…

New Blog Post

Resolutions for 2010 by Lori Kaley (GS Scientific Advisor)
Well, it’s already January and I haven’t come up with my New Year’s resolutions for 2010. Oh, don’t misunderstand me, I have plenty that I can work on…

Thank you for helping us make the Web a more nutritious place one kilobyte at a time…

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