August 10, 2010

An “Organic” Pop-Tart is Still a Pop-Tart.

Organic calories and sugar and fat are still calories and sugar and fat.

With all the new “natural” choices out there, it’s becoming more and more difficult to figure out what healthy food actually is.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that a certain term (that starts with “Or” and ends in “ganic”)…as well as all its friends “natural,” “All natural, ” and  “Trans-fat free”  have become synonymous with “healthy eating.”  Always the cynic, I am a furious label-reader, ignoring the flashy catch-phrases that advertisers throw at you and instead searching out the calories, the ingredients and the sugar content.

But my recent trip to the grocery store brought a whole new concept to light: Organic Poptarts.

I can’t say for sure when it happened. Maybe it was about the time Whole Foods came onto the major market scene, but when did organic become equivalent with healthy eating? Organic calories and sugar and fat are still, well, calories and sugar and fat.  The only thing the organic label insures is lack of pesticides in the growing of the ingredients. Could we have organic high fructose corn syrup? Would it be healthy?

I’m not the first to have noticed that the label “organic” is often used as an excuse to label something as a luxury. In my own hometown we have several “organic” shops that would love to sell you an ill-fitting 100% organic t-shirt for the low, low price of $65. I don’t know about you, but organic or no, a $65 t-shirt better be the best looking t-shirt I’ve ever owned.  But I digress.

It’s high time we learn to look past the flashy labels that food producers are using to get us to buy their products.  Organic ingredients are great. But a pop-tart is still a pop-tart. And terms like “all natural”  and “trans fat free” may be attractive, but be careful that your food isn’t loaded with saturated fat and sugar. For instance, Kentucky Fried Chicken once advertised their foods as “Trans-fat” free. We all know that fried chicken is about the worst thing you can eat (next to deep fried twinkies).

When in doubt, ditch the box and the drive thru window altogether and get back to cooking with fresh, whole ingredients. The main ingredient in broccoli? Broccoli. It’s not rocket science. If we all got just a little, teensy bit more savvy about how to cook from scratch again, I’ll bet we wouldn’t have such an obesity epidemic in this country.

Next up on the consumer line: “organic Pepsi” with antioxidants!

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