Producers of processed food have figured out that adding certain healthy-seeming labels to their products might make them seem more nutritious than they actually are. And a lot of them have gotten pretty good at their attempts to fool us.
Grist.org put together a list of the most deceptive labels that might seem like they are advertising a healthy product, but in fact, aren’t.
- Enriched: The original nutrients were all processed out so the manufacturers had to put a few back in.
- Better for you: Than what? Cyanide? Sulfuric acid? A kick in the pants? Guess what, it’s also worse for you. Than what? Real food.
- Fat-free: Fat is not the enemy and fat-free doesn’t mean it won’t make you fat. It probably contains sodium, sugars, and additives to make up for the flavor lost by excluding fat.
- Made with whole grains, real fruit, etc.: This usually means that the manufacturer added a little of the healthy ingredient so they could say “made with” on the package. Instead of eating something that is “made with” whole grains or real fruit, just eat whole grains or real fruit.
- Zero grams trans fat: By FDA rules, food can have 0.5 g trans fat per serving and still be labeled “0 grams trans fat.” Aside from being stupid, this rule means you still get plenty of trans fat if you eat the whole box.
- All-natural: This means it was made on Earth, from things found on Earth, not excluding any kind of chemical, genetically engineered (GMO) ingredient, or synthetic compound. In fact, it could probably be made on Mars, since the FDA doesn’t define “all-natural” and doesn’t restrict its use. (Note: With meat and poultry, the “natural” label does have an official USDA definition.)
- Helps Maintain ___ or May Help ___ : Manufacturers are free to say absolutely anything after vague phrases like this.
Is processed food not only bad for you but bad for the environment as well? Yes!
A lot of faux healthy food is processed with GMO corn and soy products. In order to produce those GMO crops, mass quantities of pesticides and other synthetic chemicals are utilized. Those pesticides and chemicals not only pollute the soil, but can end up in waterways.
What’s the solution to avoiding fake healthy food? Eat real whole foods. Kale will never try to advertise itself as being ‘enriched’ or ‘better for you’. True healthy food doesn’t have to advertise itself.
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