New grocery items: The good, the bad and the salty

I was feeling kind of ranty yesterday. First it was a poor argument I read in MetroNews, then it was a tweet that exposed me to some corporate food giant rhetoric. Rosie Schwartz tweeted a link to an article that she wrote for MSN about her findings at Grocery Innovations Canada 2011, a grocery industry trade show at which food and consumer product manufacturers show off their new products to those with purchasing powder at the stores that sell to regular customers (i.e., me and you). Rosie writes, “While some products offer consumers the real deal on healthy eating, others are simply nutritional pretenders. And sorting through them can sometimes be tough.” She sorts through them and proceeds to call bullshit (my word, not hers) on certain product claims. I recommend that you read it because I’m commenting on it but not reiterating everything she said. That link will open her article in another tab. Go back and forth between the two if it helps.

Many products get her approval, including the new EnviroKidz Crispy Rice Bars by Nature’s Path (not on their website yet, but I figured out that it was one of their products). I enjoy Nature’s Path. I like their cereals. They’re a Canadian company. Kale chips are approved, though do you know they’re easy to make at home cheaply? If you google you’ll find a ton of recipes. Meghan has a growing collection on her website. Rosie is unsure about Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup fortified with vitamin D. Of that, she says “This is an interesting concept that we’ll likely see more of: Campbell’s is using mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight. And, like in humans, the result of the sunlight exposure is a higher level of vitamin D. Look for the lower sodium variety for a healthier option.” Interesting indeed.

Her bullshit meter goes off with “Kraft Dinner Smart”, “Gerber Graduates Toddler Drink” and “Nestle’s Nesquick Plus”. I don’t think I need to say anything about the KD. I’ve almost ranted about it here before and don’t know what’s new about the line except maybe new products to the same old concept of Kraft adding something in and pretending that the product is healthy.

About the Gerber product line, Rosie says, “I’d say it’s not exactly the way to teach a toddler how to eat and develop lifelong habits.” Of course. I don’t understand why parents don’t just feed their children real food. My nephew, now 2, never ate “baby food”. He was started on bananas, and avocado halved and scraped with a spoon, and sweet potato with mild curry flavour. You know, real food that comes from the ground rather than a factory. As a toddler he eats what his parents eat. I am SO against dumbing down food for kids. Adults don’t need TV dinners and neither do toddlers. COOK a meal with real food. Include vegetables, whatever protein you prefer and feed small portions to your child. Something like the Gerber product that contains 370 milligrams of sodium for one meal? Read more about that below, and don’t buy it. How do products like this get approved?

Then there’s Nestle. The Nesquik Plus has 25% less sugar than their original and it’s fortified with vitamins and minerals. It contains 25% of your child s daily Vitamin D needs, but healthier foods provide Vitamin D and it still has four teaspoons of carbs per serving.

Read what Rosie wrote. Here’s our Twitter conversion:

Rosie Schwartz: Sugar reduced fortified choc syrup Nestle’s Nesquick Plus: not 4under 13 yrs- no warning on label-how can this be?

CdnFoodieGirl: @rosieschwartz Oh, the bottom line. Profit. They don’t care.

Rosie Schwartz: @CdnFoodieGirl Can’t believe they don’t need some kind of warning on label. Am going to check about it.

CdnFoodieGirl: @rosieschwartz Have you ever seen such a warning before? I think the “warning” rhetoric they gave you was bs.
[Then there was a bit of dialogue about the article being down but then it was back up so she wasn’t censored after all.]

CdnFoodieGirl: @rosieschwartz Also (now that I have the article back), I feel a rant about some of those products coming on, mostly same comments as yours.

Rosie Schwartz: Please rant! Would love to read! MT @CdnFoodieGirl: I feel a rant about some of those products coming on, mostly same comments as yours.

I was fuming at the company’s answer to Rosie, who writes in the article,

But here’s the kicker: It has a “recommended dosage for ages 13 and up.” It doesn’t state the dosage for younger children so I called the consumer line on the package and was told that it’s not recommended for children under that age.

Nowhere on the packaging does it state that it should not be given to young children. So how is it possible that it can be on store shelves in its current packaging?

What the…? Nestle’s response makes no sense! Furthermore, fortification is bs. Kids don’t need the sugar and “functional foods” (essentially foods that either started without nutrients or were stripped of them and then had nutrients added) are a sham.

I did a little googling, because that’s what I do, to see what others are saying about these three products.

On KD Smart (including previous products in the line):

  • busted: kraft dinner smart vegetables (Body By Nature)
  • A Healthier Kraft Dinner? A Rant About “KD Smart” (That’s Fit)
  • Perceptions of Kraft Dinner (CBC News)  – Regarding what the article says about donating KD to food banks, I don’t donate anything that I wouldn’t eat myself.
  • Hey Kids! Kraft Sneaks Freeze-Dried Cauliflower Into Its Neon Mac & Cheese (Huffington Post)
  • Shit No One Needs: KD with Freeze Dried Cauliflower (Hypenotic)

Gerber Graduates:

After pages of coupons for free samples and coupons I found what I was looking for. A post by PhD in Parenting talks about the sodium levels in the product and reveals that in 2010 Gerber Graduates received the third annual national “Salt Lick Award” from the Canadian Stroke Network and the Advanced Foods & Materials Network (media release). More pages of coupons follow the google results.

Nesquick Plus:

Nothing on Nesquick Plus but I can offer you The Health Myth of Functional Foods from Fooducate.

…I was feeling way more ranty yesterday and on another day this might have more substance but today I’m fighting a cold and want to have a bath and go to bed. I need to learn to not blog while eating and watching TV. Takes way too long. I’ll keep doing it anyway.

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