When it comes to health halos, arguably the biggest one is “Organic”. Please don’t get us wrong, the organic food movement is fantastic, and eating organic food has a multitude of benefits – health, social, and ecological. However, the term “organic” has been hijacked by the processed food industry to the point where junk food is deemed healthful simply because it is organic.
Don’t believe us?
Check out an experiment carried out at Cornell University by graduate student Jenny Wan-chen, who discovered that
…cookies and chips have fewer calories, less fat and more fiber when they are organic.
Overall, shoppers consistently said the organic foods were tastier. They also estimated that the organic foods had more fiber, less fat and fewer calories. They even said they’d be willing to pay more for the “organic” snacks than the “regular” ones. Read more from the Los Angeles Times…
What you need to know:
“Organic” slapped on a processed food product does not immediately imply “healthy”. Take Health Valley Organic for example. They make products such as the Organic Multigrain Strawberry Cobbler Cereal Bars pictured above.
Here is the ingredient list:
Strawberry filling (organic cane juice, organic apple powder, organic strawberries, organic rice starch, natural flavor, pectin, citric acid, red cabbage extract for color), organic flours (organic wheat, organic oat, organic corn), organic cane juice, organic expeller pressed canola oil and/or sunflower oil and/or safflower oil, organic oat fiber, organic wheat bran, organic wheat gluten, organic inulin, natural flavors, organic honey, organic nonfat dry milk, organic butter flavor, cream of tartar, baking soda, organic acacia gum, soy lecithin, sea salt.
- no artificial colorings
- No trans-fats
- Mostly added sugar – 4 teaspoons per bar. Organic Cane Juice is a fancy name for sugar.
- refined flours provide very little fiber
- The fiber is added using inulin
As you can see, this seemingly healthy cereal bar is actually closer to a candy bar than a healthy snack. Organic junk food is still junk food. It may be a little less unhealthy that its conventional equivalent, but it’s still not a health food.
What to do at the supermarket:
Don’t fall for health halos. Read the nutrition label and the ingredient list.