Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jim Hightower Tells it Like It Is

Smart is the new cool thing. There's a smart car, cities now tout smart growth, and you can buy a smart refrigerator. Now comes another breakthrough: Even your breakfast cereal has gotten smart.
At least that's what we consumers are being told by a group of major food corporations that are hoping to cash-in on the growing public concern about nutrition. Your concern is their concern, they say, so these eager-to-serve marketers have launched a snappy food labeling campaign to guide your nutritional choices. They've designated hundreds of their food products as being not just tasty, zesty and zowie — but also good for you.
You'll know which ones to reach for on the supermarket shelf because they'll be labeled with a snappy green checkmark on the front of their packages, along with the phrase, "Smart Choices."
The industry says that this seal of approval is all about helping today's busy shoppers save time. No need to read those tedious lists of ingredients on the backs of food boxes, bottles, jars and cans, for the simple green checkmark is your one-glance reassurance that you're making the smart nutritional choice for your family.
You know, smart choices like Froot Loops, Fudgesicle bars and Frosted Flakes. Yes, all of these sugar-saturated concoctions and many more have received the industry's good-for-you checkmark.
Well, snaps one of the designers of the labeling scheme, it's not a matter of selecting foods that are the best for you, but of helping consumers choose products that are better than those that would be the nutritional worst. For example, she says: "You're rushing around, you're trying to think about healthy eating for your kids, and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal. So Froot Loops is a better choice."
Uh ... no, ma'am. Not necessarily so. A serving of Froot Loops is 41 percent sugar. Good grief — there are plenty of doughnuts with a better nutritional balance than that. And, by the way, the average American supermarket does not limit our breakfast choices to doughnuts or Fruit Loops.

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