Profit is sweet even if it comes from deception
Please bear with me reading this post because I am probably not in the best mood to be writing this. As I usually do on a Saturday I head out to the grocery store and do my shopping. Pretty uneventful, really. My grocery shopping usually is a pretty quick process as practicing a plant based eating choice I avoid a lot of areas that others would go to.
But today I spent more time reading labels and looking at the marketing ploys food companies are using to get people to buy their products. Or maybe I should say manipulating people into buying their products. Yeah, I’m holding back.
Smoke and mirrors
Let me get something straight right away. I do believe we all have a responsibility to know as much as we can about the food we eat. I do believe that ultimately we are responsible for what we choose to eat and the consequences that come along with those choices. But, the reality is that not everyone will educate themselves enough to make smart choices (sh*t, wasn’t that a term used by a food company on a label when the low fat craze started?). See what I mean? Its buzz words like these that give people the feeling that they are making a ‘smart’ choice. But we know they aren’t.
So what has me fired up right now? Again, labeling. I’m going through the grocery store and I’m walking by the big bin where the store has snack cracker’s marked down. The friggin bin is almost overflowing with boxes of crackers. I think this is another method to get people to buy this. Hey, I get it. Everyone wants to make money. I pick up a box of the snack crackers and look at the front. The word ‘popped’ with an exclamation point is quite large. Popped must be good because that means it’s not fried, I guess. We all know that fat is bad for you (not really) so we use the word popped to make sure you can keep your conscious clear that you aren’t eating a fried snack. Next I notice the word ‘SUPERGRAINS’ (not me, it is in upper case on the box). What the f*ck does that mean, supergrains? It must be good, right? It’s got grains, and their super! Who wouldn’t want to snack on those supergrains? I really don’t know what supergrains means, but it’s on the box. And they also put a really nice icon on the bottom left of the box, it is nice I really like it. It’s emphasizing whole grains. They even have vertical text that says ‘the whole grains council’. WTF!?
Then I flip the box to the side to read the nutritional information. Woah, look at all those nice icons with checkmarks inside of them. That’s got to be a good thing, because there are checkmarks.
I know when I went to school and got a checkmark it meant that I did well, so same here, right? We got the low in saturated fat, the no cholesterol, trans fat free (trans fats were created by the food industry), no artificial colours and flavours. That’s five check marks! Throw in the supergrains and man, am I ever being healthy eating this snack! Why wouldn’t you think that? Really! Most people will honestly or maybe sheepishly think they are doing great by choosing this as a snack. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against having a snack that isn’t healthy. Nothing wrong with that. That’s not my point. What I’m highlighting here is not just with snack food but with all processed food. Labeling has gotten so out of hand.
So what do I do? I look at the nutrition information and read the value for serving size and carbs. Serving size is 17 crackers, or 20 grams. In one serving you are consuming 15g of sugar. 15g of sugar. 15 grams of sugar. What does that mean? It means that it’ 1 gram shy of 4 teaspoons of sugar. Yeah. 4 teaspoons. Do you stop at 17 crackers? Probably not. Let’s say you eat half the box, that’s 50 grams, or 10 teaspoons of sugar. A 12 oz. can of pop has just over 9 teaspoons of sugar. So half the box of these supergrains, oh wait, sorry, SUPERGRAINS crackers have more sugar than a can of pop!
Bullsh*t. It’s bullsh*t. Are the cans of pop labeled low fat, transfat free? No. So why label these snack crackers and other foods with these labels when they have more sugar than a pop. You know the answer don’t you. It can all be quantified to maximizing profits and getting people to buy more. That’s it. It’s that simple. Don’t for a moment think these companies are concerned about your well being.
Should you be concerned that you are eating 4 teaspoons of sugar in one serving, or maybe up to 9 teaspoons or more based on how much you eat? You probably should. On it’s own it may not be that bad but if you are someone who eats more and more processed food be aware that you are eating large amounts of sugar. And that’s bad because of the effect sugar has on our body. The saying calories in < calories out is not accurate and is misleading. Calories are not the same. A calorie from sugar is not the same as a calorie from fat or protein. Sugar impacts our hormones negatively and if too much sugar is consumed it drastically impacts our insulin levels. Studies have shown that consuming too much sugar can lead to heart disease. We usually associate that with fat.
So is this a healthy snack? With that much sugar it’s not.
Companies will do what they need to do to sell more. That’s just the way it is and I won’t go into the reasons why. It’s irrelevant with respect to this post. So what can we do? Lots. Every time you buy something you are voting. It’s kind of like why is there so much trash TV. Because people watch it and when people watch it advertisers pay big dollars to advertise during those shows. If people stop buying all this processed sh*t and start buying the healthier alternatives things will change. But if you are already buying the healthy alternatives than keep buying them! Support the smaller companies that are providing people with the foods they want.
Either way it’s up to you. At the risk of being redundant, educate yourself and be smart.
A couple of things to finish this post off. Fat is good. We need fat just like we need protein and complex carbohydrates. On the other side of the scale we don’t really need sugar. I believe sugar will be the cigarettes of our time.
I’m glad I wrote this post and if you look at a label more closely in the future and avoid snacks portraying themselves as being healthy than that is great. Remember, garbage in, garbage out.
Yours in health,