Tag: omega 3

Healthy Claims on Pre-Packaged Foods: Buyer Beware

Healthy Claims on Pre-Packaged Foods: Buyer Beware

Does adding vitamin C to cocaine make it healthy? Of course not!

Just like adding “whole grains” to Lucky Charms cereal and Pop Tarts does not make them healthy.

Just like adding omega 3’s to Country Crock does not make it healthy.

Just like adding canola oil to popcorn or French fries does not make them healthy.

Companies often reformulate some of their product slightly so they can be considered “better for you”, but in essence they will still contain all the same crap as before. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lucky Charms and French fries, but they can’t be considered healthy or even close to it, even when I read that whole grains have been added or canola oil was used. If I eat Lucky Charms, it is on my cheat day. Same goes for French fries.

Sometimes we need convenience over quality. I am definitely guilty of this. When we are shopping for the pre-packaged or processed stuff, the labeling and marketing can be overwhelming, and even a bit deceiving. When you really need that convenience item, it is easier to justify buying it when it says No Trans Fats, or Whole Grains, or Calcium Enriched, etc. When you really want a “snack” it is also easier to justify it when the label says enriched with Omega 3’s, Made from Whole Grains, etc.

Some people really believe that these additions like Whole Grains, Omega 3’s (or even subtractions like NO Trans Fats) make the food healthy. I know a few of these people. So for those people, it is not your fault… you don’t know what you don’t know. You have been bamboozled by advertising. So I return to the analogy – Does adding vitamin C to cocaine make it healthy?

I am certainly not saying to never buy processed or pre-packaged foods. We can’t live without them (at least I can’t). So for those of you who are justifying buying pre-packages stuff, recognize that you are justifying, and don’t deny that you are making a poor food choice. For those of you who don’t know, now you do know. Pre-packaged or processed food is not healthy… even if the packaging makes you think it is.

Just like with most things, there are choices and then there are better choices. So when you need that pre-packaged convenience, look for products from Odwalla, Morningstar, Health Valley, Boca, and my favorite is Kashi. These are the ones I look for when I need a pre-packaged choice.

Still, Buyer Beware.  Just because you choose a product from a company that has a healthy reputation, you must read the label no matter what.

As I was looking online for general nutritional info, I came across a blip that said Kashi owned by Kellog. This can’t be right, I thought. I must have misread it. I googled it and found that many of my favorites are owned by major, familiar corporations.

Here are a few examples of the “healthy, organic” industry structure.

• Heinz owns Hain, Breadshop, Arrowhead Mills, Garden of Eatin’, Farm Foods, Imagine Rice and Soy Dream, Casbah, Health Valley, DeBoles, Nile Spice, Celestial Seasonings, Westbrae, Westsoy, Little Bear, Walnut Acres, Shari Ann’s, Mountain Sun, Millina’s Finest, etc.

• Kraft owns Boca Foods and Back to Nature.

• Coca-Cola owns Odwalla.

• Pepsi owns Naked Juice.

• Hershey Foods owns Dagoba.

• M&M Mars owns Seeds of Change

• Kellog owns Kashi and Morningstar Farms

• General Mills owns Cascadian Farm

• ConAgra owns Lightlife

I will still buy Kashi, Odwalla, Boca, and Morningstar when I need a specific item, but I am going to start reading the labels on these choices as carefully as I read the labels on the bagel bites I buy for the kids. Knowledge is always a good thing.

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