Eco-packaged Food is Not Necessarily Healthy Food

Three Sisters Cereals

Whole Foods Market is a good place to spot new food trends. A theme that seems to be picking up in recent years and months is eco-packaging. This could mean using recycled paper or plastic as packaging material, some commitment by the manufacturer to recycle, or even no packaging at all (visit the bulk aisle).

It isn’t surprising then, to find packaging innovation in the cereal section as well. We took a look  Three Sisters brand, who decided to lose the box (see pic above). Sounds like an awesome concept by 3 sisters who got their start in the family kitchen and then got a big break selling into Whole Foods, right?

Nope. Three sisters is a brand owned by MOM Brands (Malt O’ Meal), a relatively smaller player in the cereal space that has been around for close to a century. To the company’s credit, they are innovating. They got rid of the box, and on the resealable plastic bag, they promise that their products are made using renewable wind energy:

“Three Sisters offers all natural cereals that taste good and are environmentally conscious.”

Cool. They also promise that their ingredients are in line with a natural philosophy:

“All natural cinnamon sweetened rice and whole grain wheat cereal. No trans fat, partially hydrogenated oil or phony flavors.”

“All natural sweetened whole grain toasted oat cereal with marshmallows. No phony flavors or colors.”

While this may be an improvement over Lucky Charms and Froot Loops, the fact of the matter is that these are still highly sweetened cereals and not a nutritionally sound choice for breakfast:

  • Between 2.5 – 3.5 tsp of sugar per serving. We recommend 1.5 or less.
  • Very little fiber – 1 gram. We recommend at least 3.

Please note: The “Natural” designation has absolutely no definition according to the FDA. There are plenty of natural poisons out there…

On the positive side:

  • No use of artificial colors
  • No partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats)
  • No BHT for freshness (they use vitamin E / tocopherol)

What to do at the supermarket:

If you want to treat your kids to an eco conscious snack, Three Sisters may be a better choice than comparable cereal brands. But being earth friendlier than other cereal manufacturers does not make them health food for your kids.

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  • Mike Lieberman

    It’s definitely easy to be lured to think that one label designation such as eco or  gluten free assumes that it’s healthy.

  • Aimee Roseborrough

    Also “all natural” and “organic” do not equal healthy when it comes to packaged foods.

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  • Healthy food

    Eco-packaged Food is Not Necessarily Healthy Food. But it is so testy food.