Monday, 25 August 2008

New York - Limited Cake Porn but Plenty of Sugar Pushers

The Great Cake Porn Tour
New York - Limited Cake Porn but Plenty of Sugar Pushers
New York Part 2 – Another Sugar Pusher and Cake Security Threat
Las Vegas - Supreme Cake Porn and Absurd Food Labelling
Yosemite National Park - More Blood Sugar Capers
San Francisco Part 1: Stretching the Definitions of Natural and Healthy
San Francisco Part 2 - My Proxy Cheesecake Shame

I have been disappointed by the cakes in New York so far. Last year I spotted an impossibly deep gateau at Newark airport, so if they are still selling the same sort of thing on Tuesday when we fly to Vegas, I’ll get a snapshot. In the meantime, this was the best I could do – I found these cakes in a deli in the financial district.

Meanwhile, I had more luck looking for health food stores selling junk food. First, I browsed what is on offer in GNC on 57th street. There I found exactly the same sort of rubbish I reported here is being peddled in UK health food stores like Julian Graves and Holland and Barrett. After Julian Graves’ claims not to be a health food store I thought it would be prudent to check with the assistant in GMC whether they are indeed a health food store.

"You’re a health food store, right?" I asked, as I entered.

"Right," confirmed the assistant.

Two items worth mentioning are their chocolate-covered nuts and yogurt-coated nuts. These contain, of course, sugar as one of the top ingredients and also partially hydrogenated oil of one sort or another. Naturally, these products were being sold alongside regular, healthy products like unsalted nuts.

I also called into the mighty Wholefoods on the North East corner of Central Park, where I was surprised and disappointed to find precisely the same kinds of products. However, instead of 'sugar' on the list of ingredients, I found ‘Evaporated cane juice’, 'Naturally Milled Sugar' or 'Cane Sugar'.

I can see how Wholefoods might put forward their case. One of their core values relates to the 'nutritive value' of the food, but the word health is not mentioned anywhere. They would argue that by ensuring their products use sugar in a form that has been minimally tampered with, it contains more nutrients. Certainly this is true of milled sugar according to this web site.

However, I am sceptical. I do not believe that just because their pseudo-candy is full of naturally milled cane sugar instead of normal refined sugar, the detrimental impact on health of eating them is materially reduced. Having a few extra vitamins there is unlikely to mitigate the ill-effects of sugar consumption much, if at all. I have no direct evidence for this and none may exist, but I feel there is a commonsense case that strongly supports the idea.

I wonder whether Wholefoods would also try to claim they are not positioned as a 'health food store'. If so, then I would refer them to the response I gave to Julian Graves - that however much they refer to their stated core values, what counts is the perception of its customers: if people think they are a health food store then this is almost certainly result of their marketing strategy, regardless of what they state explicitly.

Don't get me wrong - I like Wholefoods. I suspect they have more ethics in their little pinkie than most companies have in total; but if people see them as a health food store and if they are selling unhealthy products like yogurt (sugar)-coated nuts alongside regular nuts, then they are just as guilty as the other health food stores and should be called to account.

More from Vegas. I hope to bring you some proper cake porn from there.

The Series:
The Great Cake Porn Tour
New York - Limited Cake Porn but Plenty of Sugar Pushers
New York Part 2 – Another Sugar Pusher and Cake Security Threat
Las Vegas - Supreme Cake Porn and Absurd Food Labelling
Yosemite National Park - More Blood Sugar Capers
San Francisco Part 1: Stretching the Definitions of Natural and Healthy
San Francisco Part 2 - My Proxy Cheesecake Shame

See Also:
The Worst Sugar Pushers of all: Health Food Stores
Julian Graves Responds to 'Sugar Pushers' Post (Worst Sugar Pushers Part 2)
The Worst Sugar Pushers of All Part 3 - Holland and Barrett Takes Centre Stage
Why (Refined) Sugar is Bad: Some References
We're all Junkies

3 comments:

Anna said...

Hi,

I've been seeing your comments on a number of blogs I read. I think I clicked on over this time from Stephen's Whole Health Source.

Love this post topic. I also find it necessary to "shop the perimeter" in so-called health food stores, to avoid the various pseudonyms for sugar, plus agave syrup (high fructose content), processed soy, etc. Even then, it's hard to find truly free-range or pastured animal products at the chill case or butcher counter, or else it is shipped from Sout America, NZ, etc.

I filled out a comment/request card at our local clone of WF (Jimbo's, Naturally! of San Diego County), requesting lard. Their response was no way they would stock lard, because they have a responsibility to only stock healthy foods. Arrrgh! Like their pseudo-meat/dairy, processed soy, full of flavor additives are healthy, let alone their human foie gras-producing agave syrup-sweetened foods, or all the grain products that aren't sprouted.

Luckily, I located a source of someone in my county who raises a backyard pig or two, so now I have access to well-produced pork fat (the best stuff, from around the kidneys) that I render down to lard. Great stuff an much better than anything the store could stock, anyway.

Methuselah said...

Anna - it truly is a minefield and one made doubly difficult to navigate, as you say, when people staffing supposed health food shops have no real understanding of what healthy food is. Not always their fault, I guess, if they are just on a summer job, but no less frustrating. We have started buying fresh meat and fish from a market in Birmingham, UK, where the guys can tell us when and where they were caught/killed. Rabbit, venison, free range chicken, ocean fish from UK waters etc. Sometimes, when we miss this stall because we are late, we end up in a supermarket where the effort required to obtain food not flown over from Paraguay or fed on crap or kept in 10 x 10 inch cages is immense!

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