Friday, 5 September 2008

San Francisco Part 1: Stretching the Definitions of Natural and Healthy

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 know this is supposed to be a cake porn tour, and part 2 will include some cake porn, I promise; but I had to do a separate post first on the sugar pusher theme.

I am starting to realise that whilst health food stores should be ashamed of themselves for selling products that are not healthy, there is a wider issue of the way the way individual products are marketed and labelled.

Mrs Methuselah, in the dying throes of her round-the-USA sugar binge (see part 2 for the climax to that fiasco) bought some coated confectionary at De Lano's Market in Tiberon today. As she sat in the car 30 minutes later complaining about the sugar low and accompanying headache (I know - she really should change the record), she also remarked

I can't believe they were described as natural and healthy.

Fortunately there seems to be a De Lano's market on every street here, so I did not need to drive 30 minutes to get a photo of the All Natural Golden Bridge Mix Healthy Snack.

Obligingly, Sun Ridge Farms publish the ingredients online, I can show them here. I have emboldened the ingredients of particular interest.

Milk Chocolate Coating (whole malted barley and corn, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, unsweetened chocolate, soy lecithin, pure food glaze), Peanuts, Raisins, Malt Ball Centers (high maltose corn syrup, matled mile powder [wheat flour and malting barley extract, milk, salt, baking soda], whey powder, fractioned palm kernel oil, soy lecithin), Almonds, Yogurt Coating (natural evaporated cane juice, fractioned palm kernel oil, nonfat yogurt powder, soy lecithin, lactic acid, vanilla, salt, pure food glaze), Peanut Butter Coating (evaporated cane juice, fractioned palm kernel oil, peanut flour, whey, and soy lecithin), Cherries.

There are two issues here.

1. The product is described as 'all natural' yet contains the emboldened ingredients which are processed food products.
2. The product is described as a healthy snack, yet contains highly concentrated forms of sugar.

Here is an open letter to Sun Ridge Farms - I will contact them to let them know about this post and also copy De Lano's Markets on the email, offering them both the opportunity to comment.



Dear Sirs,

I recently purchased some of your Golden Bridge Mix and am confused about the way it was marketed and the ingredients.

First, Golden Bridge Mix is described as 'all natural', yet contains high maltose corn syrup and fractioned palm kernel oil, both of which are processed food ingredients. I am particularly confused that both natural evaporated cane juice and evaporated cane juice appear in the list. This has to mean that the second of these two is not natural, right? Please explain how you can justify describing this product as 'all natural'.

Second, the product is labelled 'Healthy Snack.' Could you please explain how you determine whether a food you sell is healthy? There is a great deal of evidence that highly concentrated forms of sugar such as high maltose corn syrup and evaporated cane juice are anything but healthy. The irony is that a number of your other products (such as raw nuts) could easily be described as healthy, yet you do not describe them as such.

I look forward to your comments, which I will happily publish.

Yours sincerely,

Methuselah.



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

2 comments:

Anna said...

If you get a response to your letter, it will be some blather about how anything is healthy as part of a "balanced" diet, they work hard to meet consumer demand, or something equally lame.

Have you read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma? Very, very good book in many ways (though I do have a few caveats about some of his eating advice), with an excellent section on the marketing of "healthy" foods, with "pastoral literature" and pastoral scenes on labels, in which he describes how well this convinces the eager consumer that this egg really was produced on Auntie Em's farm in the red barn (ha! slim chance, if that egg is purchased in a grocery store, even a "health food" store). But folks fall for for the marketing BS, even smart ones, because they want to believe the baloney.

I was starting to wonder about Mrs. Methuselah, from all your tales, but then I remembered how many times I used to eat "sugar dressed in healthy labeling" to paraphrase the saying about wolves and sheep. I can't believe at one time I justified serving Annie's brand microwaveable boxed Mac n' Cheese to my son because it was "organic" - true confession. I thought even though it was dessicated precooked noodles and powder white cheddar stuff, it was ok, because I added real butter and cream to it, plus freshly grated parmesan or cheddar. Talk about trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear! So I'll cut her some slack for chowing, even after she read the that clearly stated it was made of lab garbage, but for your sake, I hope she straightens up and fast. I hope you are enjoying the trip anyway.

You are in SF, one of the greatest food locations in the state (I'm so jealous!), even arguably in the country. I gotta wonder why your wife is consuming this stuff when she could be dining on far better (that ingredient list looks like half the snacks sold in 7-Eleven, quicki-marts and vending machines anywhere.

Methuselah said...

Anna - don't worry, Mrs M is a lot smarter than my posts perhaps give her credit for (I have been indoctrinating her for years!) She's well aware of what garbage she's eating, but has taken a conscious decision to indulge her latent cravings for garbage whilst on holiday. She ate the 'healthy snack' in the full knowledge that it would not really be healthy. However, we have been treating our evening meals as our opportunity for fine dining, and you are right about the quality of the restaurants here - the seafood, especially, has been superb.

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