Don’t Be Stupid

. . . or How to Be Smarter Than the Average Food Marketer

Food marketers must smirk with glee at how handily they seduce the American consumer. “Americans are so gullible!” they must all be laughing in their cubicles.

Green Giant Veggie Chips

Just because “Roasted Veggie” is in its name, don’t be misled into thinking you’ll get a serving or two of veggies while snacking on a few handfuls of chips. Just eat a real, fresh pepper!

Fortunately for us, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is watching our backs. This group actually examines health claims on packaged foods, going so far as to measure the amount of healthy ingredients a product claims to have. I have followed their investigations for years and the results are nothing less than astounding. Hence this post’s title: “Don’t Be Stupid.”

Green Giant’s Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips are a case in point. “The deliciousness of garden vegetables and ranch flavor are paired to create a truly flavorful snacking experience.” So says the package.  Before you get too excited about snacking away a couple servings of healthy roasted vegetables, here’s the real scoop from CSPI:

Since when does a snack that’s made mostly of corn (even if it’s whole grain) and oil deserve to talk about “garden vegetables”? Turns out the chips have more ground corn, sunflower oil, and buttermilk powder than dried bell peppers, and more evaporated cane syrup (sugar) and salt than dried broccoli, tomatoes, or carrots.

Our best defenses against food marketers:

  1. Be suspect of any processed foods; by definition, they are “far from the tree” and frequently contain ingredients better left on the factory floor.
  2. READ INGREDIENT LABELS. I’m surprised by the number of people who don’t monitor what’s going into their mouths.  Judging by the (ill) health of our country, it’s fair to say that merely being “food grade” does not assure that a factory-created product does what food should do, i.e., supply vital nutrients for our bodies.
  3. Check out CSPI’s Nutrition Action blogs and newsletters, and start educating yourself on the marketing gimmicks we are bombarded with by the day, hour and minute. You’ll soon start getting the hang of being smarter than the average food marketer.

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