Frito-Lay’s Simply Organic Doritos. Yes, You Read That Sentence Correctly.

Have you seen the newest grocery-store arrival to Frito-Lay’s lineup of snacks?

Simply Organic Doritos. I must admit, those are three words that I didn’t think I’d ever use in the same sentence!

Fooducate, one of my favorite food literacy and nutrition apps, published an analysis comparing the ingredients in Doritos Supreme Cheddar to the ingredients in the newest organic version, Doritos Simply Organic White Cheddar. Although the organic version is produced without artificial additives such as Red 40 that are found in its counterpart, Fooducate noted that this organic certification hardly makes the new snack a nutrient-dense option.

I’m reminded of Michael Pollan’s summation of the changing landscape of organic food products featured in his book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto: 

“Organic Oreos are not a health food. When Coca-Cola begins selling organic Coke, as it surely will, the company will have struck a blow for the environment perhaps, but not for our health. Most consumers automatically assume that the word “organic” is synonymous with health, but it makes no difference to your insulin metabolism if the high-fructose corn syrup in your soda is organic.”

Applying Pollan’s reasoning to Simply Organic Doritos elucidates the fact that this organic certification does not substantially change the nutrients (or lack thereof) in this food product.

What is the rationale, then, behind Frito-Lay’s decision to introduce this product to supermarkets?

The word organic holds a positive connotation within American food culture. And, as this same food culture who glorifies smoothies simultaneously vilifies Frito-Lay’s products on the grounds of environmentalism, ethics, and nutrition, it certainly behooves the company to attempt to win-over certain publics through this organic certification. If nothing else, the move is strategic.

How does Frito-Lay’s decision to produce Simply Organic Doritos change your perception of its brand? What factors do you think drove this business decision?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

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Food literacy is at an all-time low. Here’s what you can do about it…

I recently came across an astounding article in The Washington Post, entitled “The surprising number of American adults who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.” Author Caitlin Dewey uses surveys and studies to make the case that the American public’s food literacy is at an all-time low. From elementary-school aged children to adults, the U.S. citizenry is unaware of the agricultural and commercial processes that occur as sustenance is transported from fields to factories to food marts.

“Project Lunchbox: Let’s Eat!” aims to debunk food myths, inspire informed food choices, and instill in families the belief that they are capable of igniting change within the global food system: through their united voices and their collective wallets.

To that end, here are five action steps to implement in your household to ensure that your family is food literate:

  1. Take your kids with you to the grocery store. As you’re placing items into the cart, explain to your children that although food is purchased at the grocery store, it doesn’t come from grocery store.
  2. Plan a family visit to a local farm…’tis the season for apple and pumpkin picking! I’ve discovered that many farms offering CSA shares also provide free agriculture and food programming for kids.
  3. Bring the farm to table concept to life by planting a family garden. Yes, even in the season of autumn, there are steps you can take to ensure a bountiful harvest next spring. Did you know that planting garlic during the autumn months ensures a plentiful growing season the following summer? Food for thought…
  4. Cook with your child. As you prepare a recipe, explain to your child the difference between a whole food and a processed food. Then ask your child to tell you whether each ingredient is either a whole food or a processed food. 
  5. If your child is old enough, read books about the food industry together. Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Readers Edition provides an age-appropriate overview of the global food system, and the differences between how whole foods and processed foods come to be.

Do you agree that food literacy is at an all-time low in America? What steps have you taken to ensure that your family is food literate?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

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Reading Recommendation: Real Food Fake Food by Larry Olmsted

Has anybody read Larry Olmsted’s Real Food Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do About It?

I recently picked it up, and I’m impressed by Olmsted’s knack for breaking down the American food industry’s fraudulent practices in bite-size chunks. 😉 His comprehensive analysis of how some grocery vendors and restaurateurs misguide consumers by mislabeling food products will compel you to act.

One of my favorite parts about the book is that Olmsted’s writing style is empowering. This is not a book that will make you throw you head in your hands, lament the way things are, and feel as though the problems are too big and too complex for you to make a difference. Instead, Olmsted shows you how you can take matters back into your own hands and become a savvy sleuth skilled at detecting real food versus fake food.

From Kobe beef to Parmesan cheese to sushi, Olmsted cleverly devotes each chapter to a food product that’s sold in America as something that it’s not. He sifts through the historical information, food politics, and statistics to provide you with the relevant research you need to determine what fake food is and how to avoid it.

What books about the food industry are on your must-read list?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

If you found what you read compelling, please consider:

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Panera Bread takes your health into its hands by disclosing the amount of added sugar in its beverages

Has anybody ate at Panera Bread lately?

If so, you may have noticed the restaurant chain’s cups sporting a new look. Seven of its beverages are now poured into cups disclosing the number of calories and the teaspoons of added sugar contained in the drinks. 

If your local Panera Bread chain hasn’t rolled out this initiative yet, don’t worry. The company will implement this change at each of its locations throughout September 2017.

How cool are these new Panera Bread cups?

Super cool! I’m thrilled to see Panera Bread continue to establish itself as a brand invested in providing pertinent nutritional information to its customers (Psst…remember the restaurant chain’s 2015 publication of the “No No List,” a consolidation of the chemicals it pledged to eliminate from its menu offerings?) 

It’s also refreshing to see such a prominent corporation in the food industry transparently communicate the added sugars in its drinks. While Panera Bread certainly could have printed these quantities of added sugars in grams, it chose to print this information in teaspoons. I think that this metric is easier to visualize than grams, which takes me back to the chemistry laboratory at my high school.

Looking for more information about added sugars and their affect on your diet?

Check out my app recommendation for a hassle-free way to determine the natural versus added sugars in food products, and discover the many pseudonyms masking as added sugars on nutrition labels!

How do you feel about Panera Bread’s decision to publicize the amount of added sugars in some of its beverages?

Until Next Week…Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie

If you found what you read compelling, please consider:

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Campbell’s Upgrades Soup Ingredient List

Star Wars memorabilia is adorning the cans of Campbell’s soups.  Not only has the packaging changed, the actual food product has as well.  In fact, the original ingredient list for Campbell’s chicken broth soup for children has been reimagined, while chemicals, enhancers, preservatives have been abandoned for the duration.  Nevertheless, the tried and true favorite ingredients in the children’s soup, such as vegetables and meat products, will remain.  In this way, Campbell’s appears to be emphasizing a whole foods approach to their manufacturing and production.  Furthermore, Campbell’s Director of Communications, Anna Burr, announced “When we make a change to a recipe that is as loved as our kids’ chicken and pasta soup, we work very hard to keep the flavor and texture consistent, because we know just how important that is for people, especially kids.”  However, Burr made sure to mention that at Campbell’s, “We know cleaner-label food is something parents are looking for” (Saelinger).

Joy Bauer, a nutritionist for TODAY, offers an explanation as to why companies such as Campbell’s are altering the ingredient lists of their food and beverage products.  Bauer states “In order to keep sales from taking a downward turn, these big companies know they have to adjust and re-formulate recipes that previously were flying off shelves” (Saelinger).

I have always been a staunch advocate for the vast change that each individual has the potential to affect upon our global food system.  I have noticed that this year in particular has brought the power that a single individual can have upon our food system to the forefront.  As more and more companies raise the standards for ingredients, food preparation, and product distribution, I am reminded that food companies are reactionary.  And, the majority of the time, they change as a response to us.  We, as consumers, possess the power to initiate change, whether it be through our collective wallets or our united voices.

How do you use your wallet and your voice to initiate changes in a local or global food system?

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Saelinger, Tracy. “Campbell’s cuts artificial flavors–and celery–from its kids’ chicken noodle soup.” TODAY. 10 Nov. 2015: NBC News. Web. 6 Dec. 2015. <http://www.today.com/food/campbells-cuts-10-artificial-ingredients-its-iconic-chicken-noodle-soup-t55136>

The Skinny on Oreo Thins

Let the countdown begin for Oreo lovers… in less than a week, Oreo’s new brainchild, Oreo Thins, will be available for purchase in the United States.  Evidently, these Oreo Thins taste the same as their surviving ancestors, the original Oreo Cookie.  It appears as though the only meaningful difference between the two cookies from a nutritional point of view is the number of calories.  Three Oreo Cookies boast 160 calories, while four Oreo Thins boast 140 calories.  So why would Mondelez International Incorporated create this skinnier spin on an old American favorite, and why would they do it now? (Choi).

Senior Brand Manager Patty Gonzalez addressed these questions by stating “At Oreo, we know that some of our fans have grown up and that their tastes have grown up too.  The crisp and delicate texture of Oreo Thins was specially designed for fans who love the taste of Oreo but are looking for a more sophisticated cookie” (Putnam).  Personally, sophistication and Oreos are two words that I would never, ever put in the same sentence, but to each his or her own.

According to the Business Insider, “the Oreo Thin package weighs 10.1 ounces while the original Oreo package weighs 14.3 ounces” (Garber).  However, it is interesting to note that the Associated Press claims the pricing of a container of Oreo Thins and a container of Oreos will be equivalent (Choi).  Exploring the optics in this scenario would lead me to believe that Mondelez International Incorporated is more determined to generate a larger profit for themselves than elevate their cookies to appeal to a mature audience.  The premise of this deduction could be valid for two reasons:

1.  In 2014, Oreo Thins graced the market in China after cookie sales had begun to dwindle (Choi).

2.  Cookie sales also dwindled in the U.S. in January, February, and March of 2015 (Choi).

How does the skinny on Oreo Thins sit with you?

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Choi, Candice. “Oreos get thin, going for ‘sophisticated’ air.” Associated Press. 6 July 2015: Associated Press. Web. 7 July 2015. <http://bigstory.ap.org/article/1d13badff94b4397beb39179b5c12d2d/oreos-get-thin-going-sophisticated-air>

Garber, Jonathan. “Here is something Oreo hopes you don’t notice.” Business Insider. 7 July 2015: Business Insider Incorporated. Web. 7 July 2015. <http://www.businessinsider.in/Here-is-something-Oreo-hopes-you-dont-notice-/articleshow/47977957.cms>

Putnam, Lindsay. “Skinny Oreos are a Double Stuf lover’s worst nightmare.” New York Post. 6 July 2015: NYP Holdings, Incorporated. Web. 7 July 2015. <http://nypost.com/2015/07/06/skinny-oreos-are-a-double-stuf-lovers-worst-nightmare/>

Panera Gives Life to the “No No List”

Azodicarbonamide.  Caprocaprylobehenin.  Tertiary Butylhydroquinone.  Try saying that three times fast… well, that might not be so much fun after all.  Turns out you won’t have to suffer through the arduous pronunciations of the ingredients listed above, (and many, many others) when reading a Panera Bread menu.  In fact, the company has recently announced its elaborate plans to eliminate countless chemicals from the totality of its products by the final month of 2016 (Strom).

So what ignited this dramatic shift in the ingredients that Panera Bread will incorporate into its creations?  The Chief Executive of Panera Bread, Ron Shaich, stated quite matter-of-factly that “We’re trying to draw a line in the sand in the industry so that consumers have an easy way to know what’s in the food they buy.”  It certainly appears as though the consumer and her/his viewpoints, rather than the growing science on nutrition and health, is driving this decision to make serious cuts in the ingredients that Panera Bread uses.  To that end, Shaich went on to attest to the fact that “I’m not a scientist and I’m not wading into the debate over whether any of these things cause cancer or are otherwise bad for you.”  Additionally, Shaich further explained “I just think this is where the consumer’s head is right now,” referring to the increasing level of awareness and mounting education that consumers have concerning what exactly is inside the food that they consume (Strom).

Only time will tell whether or not the general public will get on board with the intense changes being made to Panera Bread’s menu.  Interestingly, multiple chemical ingredients used by Panera Bread a this moment in time are implemented into recipes because they ensure regularity from meal to meal.  There is no guarantee that products at Panera Bread will maintain their mainstream aesthetic quality without chemical preservatives.  Therefore, the Senior Quality Assurance Manager at Panera Bread, Sara Burnett, bluntly admitted “We don’t know how customers will react” (Strom).

What is your initial reaction to Panera Bread’s bold move to eliminate such a vast variety of chemicals and preservatives from its ingredient lists?

To view the entirety of the “No No List” (which spells out each ingredient, not just the three listed in the first paragraph of this post) check out this link:

https://www.panerabread.com/panerabread/documents/panera-no-no-list-05-2015.pdf

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Strom, Stephanie.  “Panera Bread Plans to Drop a Long List of Ingredients.”  New York Times  4 May 2015:  The New York Times Company.  Web.  19 May 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/05/business/panera-bread-plans-to-drop-a-long-list-of-ingredients.html?_r=0>

Happy Meals Make Me Unhappy

So here’s the deal: I do not just want to rain on the Happy Meals parade.  In general, I am not a huge fan of the majority of American children’s menus… not in the least.  And here’s why:

Is a serving of french fries equivalent to a serving of vegetables?

In this same way, can ketchup count as a serving of fruit?  Children’s menus in America are certainly trying to convince us that they can.  Unfortunately, these food options for kids often lack substantial portions of fruits and vegetables.  Unhealthy fats, sugars, and sodium replace the healthful benefits and bright flavors of fresh herbs.  They are just plain nutritionally deficient.

Besides the fact that these menus are unhealthy, they are also uninventive.  For instance, the typical options go something like this: hamburgers/cheeseburgers, cheese/pepperoni pizza, chicken fingers and french fries, and macaroni and cheese.  In my opinion, these offerings discourage kids from developing a palate.  Rather than trying to expand their culinary horizons, kids eat the same foods, made from the same ingredients (or chemicals) each time they go out to eat with their families.

Do Happy Meals make you unhappy?  Why or why not?  If given the opportunity, how would you take action to change American children’s menus?  Please let me know.

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Fast Facts on Fast Food… Explained!

Last week’s post included various statistics that demonstrated the depth and breadth of the world’s fascination and borderline addiction to the fast food industry.  The previous post also ended with a question, inquiring as to how these statistics speak to the grip that the fast food industry has on America’s food culture as well as consumers from all over the world.  In truth, the answer to this question is both intricate and complex, and probably cannot be answered in one blog post… (but I’m going to be Miss Optimistic and try my best)!  After you read the information, please don’t hesitate to comment and share your own thoughts/answer a few of the questions below about the fast food industry’s affect on our world.

Is efficiency or quality more important to you?

The fast food industry not only understands our innate desire for efficiency and increased speed, but they are also able to manipulate this craving we have for more time.  The drive-thru is probably the most ingenious manner in which the fast food industry has changed what it means to have a meal on the go.  Interestingly, in the United States alone, there are approximately 200,000 fast food restaurants that offer a drive-thru for their customers.  A consumer has the ability to remain in their car throughout the entire fast food experience, from ordering, to picking-up, to eating their purchased goods.  In thinking about how this changes our eating experience, it certainly seems as though fast food offers us all a “Meal-Free Meal.”  Now it is possible to consume an entire meal without a plate, without silverware, without a table, and most of the time, even without loved ones.  Fast food and its drive-thrus are without a doubt more convenient, yet the concept of fast food sacrifices the quality of the eating experience (Bratskeir).

Does the color blue intensify your appetite or does it detract from it?

The majority of people would respond to the question above by stating that the color blue detracts from their appetite.  The fast food industry is fully aware of this (Ronald McDonald wears a red and yellow suit for a reason)!  Therefore, they tailor each and every one of their marketing campaigns, advertising ploys, and sponsors to revolve around warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows), instead of cool colors (greens, blues, purples) to initially cultivate and then continually intensify a consumer’s desire for their product (Bratskeir).

Are children more vulnerable to fast food advertising methods than adults?

After conducting a study to decipher the quantity of food ads that children watch each day, the Yale Rudd Center has revealed that in 2013, children viewed about 13 food ads daily (Bratskeir).  This is approximately 4,745 food ads per year (Bratskeir)!  Time and time again, the fast food industry proves to have its grip on the pulse of culture (Horovitz).  Probably no better example of this is how the processed food industry has adapted its advertising strategies in order to keep up with the ways in which technology has changed the ways in which we communicate (Horovitz).  What was once a marketing strategy built entirely on television advertisements, the fast food industry has now expanded its advertising grip to social media and the Internet (Horovitz).  In fact, Ronald McDonald has his own website and “Ronaldgrams” (videos, photos, etc.) promote word of mouth information about the happenings in the fast food world (Horovitz).

Do you eat first with your eyes, or do you eat first with your nose?

Regardless of your answer, the fast food industry has made allowances so your eyes can like what they see and your nose can smell something appetizing before you order your meal.  “Aroma marketing” actually intensifies your body’s construction of a chemical called ghrelin which makes you feel hungry, quickly.  At the majority of fast food restaurants, a consumer orders their meal in the front of the store, while simultaneously smelling their food being cooked or fried in ovens or fryers much closer than they may appear.  Furthermore, billboard marketing and the massive expanses of hamburgers, french fries, and milkshakes in advertisements also can often consume your mind, making it difficult to focus on anything but the billboard you just saw (Bratskeir).

I’ve always found consumption to be such a vivid indicator of a culture and its values.  The food and beverages that we choose to consume reveal who we are just as much as the music we listen to, the art we create, and the language we speak.  If we consume fast food to the degree that the statistics suggest, what does this say about what we value as a collective society?

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Bratskeir, Kate. “Six Not-So-Subtle Ways Fast Food Joints Make You Want To Eat At Their Restaurants.” Huffington Post June 2014: TheHuffingtonPost.com Incorporated, Web. 24 Feb. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/16/fast-food-marketing_n_5366297.html>

Horovitz, Bruce. “Ronald McDonald is reaching out to kids online.” USA Today March 2011: Gannett Co. Incorporated, Web. 24 Feb. 2015. <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2011-03-31-ronald-mcdonald-goes-digital.htm>

Fast Facts on Fast Food

Did you know that according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation…

1.  500,000 plus is the total number of fast food chains/restaurants located on this Earth (Fast).

2.  157,000,000 is the number of instances per month that children ranging from the ages of six through fourteen consume food/beverages from fast food chains/restaurants (Fast).

3.  96% is the percentage of school aged children who are able to correctly identify a picture or photo of Ronald McDonald (McDonald’s “mascot”).  Interestingly, Santa Claus was the single individual to be correctly identified by a larger percentage of these same aged school children (Fast).

4.  $100 billion is the total sum of money that the American public spends on food/beverages from fast food chains/restaurants per year (Fast).

How do these statistics speak to the grip that the fast food industry has on America’s food culture as well as consumers from all over the world?

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

“Fast Food.” PAMF. n.d. Palo Alto Medical Foundation, 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://www.pamf.org/teen/health/nutrition/fastfood.html>