There are a lot of rules in our house about eating, none of which are religiously adhered to (except the no caffeine rule). Why, for instance, is there bread in the house when we are supposed be anti-refined-carb? If “sometimes food” is only to be consumed on Saturdays, why does Saturday seem to start on Friday night? There is, however, one over arching guideline that dictates these rules, even if the rules themselves aren’t always followed, and that is,
Food manufacturers do not have their customers’ well being at heart.
The supermarket shelves abound with food that, while the labels may not claim to the product is good for you, they certainly suggest it. Yoghurt, for instance has long been held to be a health food. My parents have tubs of Authentikos greek yoghurt in their fridge which must be healthy, because it’s authentic. Gippsland yoghurt sounds like it must be made from the milk of happy cows, raised in a clean environment. Back in the 70s, when yoghurt first became popular in this country, the major brand was “Ski”, and I can well believe that it was good for you because, well, you’d have to be a hardy Scandinavian type, with a penchant for dashing from sauna to snow, to enjoy something with such a character building taste. The hardy, healthy image of yoghurt has persisted, but now you have to check the labels very carefully to ensure you are not eating something more akin to a lolly. Gippsland dairy, for instance, make a blueberry yoghurt. Blueberries are full of antioxidants, so that must be good for you right? Well, a small tub (160g / 5.5Oz) contains almost 7 teaspoons of sugar, 27g. About 7.5g of that comes naturally from the milk, but that means there are 5 tsps of added sugar. Can you imagine yourself adding 5 teaspoons to a small bowl of yoghurt? I would stop when the yoghurt started to taste nice, perhaps 1 or 2 tsps, but food manufacturers stop just before the food starts to taste sickly. My parents’ Authentikos yoghurt contains almost as much sugar as the blueberry stuff.
Now sugary yoghurt, generally, has sugar listed as one of it’s ingredients, but what about all these “paleo” bars and other healthy sounding bars with no added sugar that are cropping up? Paleo must be good because cave men didn’t have access to all this free sugar that we have right? Well, there’s a reason the WHO counts dried fruit as “free sugar”. Blue Dinosaur Mac ‘n Lemon paleo bars are promoted as “Made with Macadamia, Coconut and Organic, cold pressed Lemon oil this bar tastes just like your grandma’s lemon slice but lacks the guilt one feels after smashing half a tray of Nan’s finest.” Let me tell you, these bars are seriously delicious. Well your Nan’s lemon slice probably had about 50% sugar and the other half was saturated fat, but the “guilt free” paleo bar contains 31% sugar, almost all of which comes from dates. I’m sure that occasionally cro-magnon people found a date tree full of ripe dates, if they were lucky enough to live in an area with date trees, and had a party under the tree once a year, but that was only once a year, and those dates were not the high sugar varieties we have today. Dates are 63% sugar and almost always appear as the first or second ingredient on “sugar free” bars and balls. (And BTW – what is it with round food this decade? And why does round seem to suggest healthy?)
Well I think I’ve ranted long enough about lollies disguised as health food. Next week I might write a diatribe on salt.