Saturday, September 5, 2009

Froot Loops Are Health Food! I Know It's True Because the Food Industry Said So

You really do need to read every section of the newspaper. Or skim it, at least. This is from the Business section of today's New York Times. You simply must read this. If you have any illusions that any industry of any kind can regulate itself, then this should put the nail in the coffin of that particular notion.

Several giants of the food industry have come together to agree on a "Smart Choice" label to "help" consumers find "healthier" products to eat. Like fruits and vegetables and whole grains, right? No. More like Froot Loops and Hellmann's mayonnaise. Of course.

I had to stop reading this every paragraph or two in order to quote the stupidity to my family. It's literally jaw-dropping. (I'm one of those people whose jaw does indeed drop when he can't believe what he's seeing/hearing/smelling.)

Here are some of my favorite quotes.

“The checkmark means the food item is a ‘better for you’ product, as opposed to having an x on it saying ‘Don’t eat this,’ ” [Smart Choices board president] Dr. [Eileen T.] Kennedy said. “Consumers are smart enough to deduce that if it doesn’t have the checkmark, by implication it’s not a ‘better for you’ product. They want to have a choice. They don’t want to be told ‘You must do this.’ ”

Okay, so if consumers are so smart, then why do you need to put a label on something that says "smart"? Pander much? I guess she figures if you put the words "smart" and "choice" in her quote, then the people who arent' so smart will buy it. Not buying it here. Insulted that she'd think I would. But I guess I'm not her target audience.

Froot Loops qualifies for the label because it meets standards set by the Smart Choices Program for fiber and Vitamins A and C, and because it does not exceed limits on fat, sodium and sugar. It contains the maximum amount of sugar allowed under the program for cereals, 12 grams per serving, which in the case of Froot Loops is 41 percent of the product, measured by weight. That is more sugar than in many popular brands of cookies.

“Froot Loops is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals and it is also a good source of fiber with only 12 grams of sugar,” said Celeste A. Clark, senior vice president of global nutrition for Kellogg’s, which makes Froot Loops. “You cannot judge the nutritional merits of a food product based on one ingredient.”

Holy crap. Apparently, as long as you pump some laboratory nutrients into a pile of sugar then it qualifies as "smart". But I'm rushing to judgment. Sugar is just "one ingredient", after all. Froot Loops are the nutritional equivalent of a relationship where the guy is fantastic in bed but he beats you every night. "Don't judge him based on that!"

Here's my personal favorite.

[Dr. Kennedy] said Froot Loops was better than other things parents could choose for their children.

“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,” Dr. Kennedy said, evoking a hypothetical parent in the supermarket. “So Froot Loops is a better choice.”

Holy crap. I'm rushing around. I'm a busy parent. I don't know what to do. And I'm really not all that smart, even though Dr. Kennedy told me I was. How could I be if I don't know if a doughnut is a good choice for breakfast? But wait! This check mark tells me that Froot Loops are better! Yes! Hey, are they putting a super-duper check mark on that banana? 'Cause that seems like an even better choice. No? No. My only choices are Froot Loops and doughnut. That's it. Want a choice. Rushing around.

I guess that is somewhat logical. I mean, it's all relative. Hey, would I be better off giving my kids a bowl of Froot Loops or a pile of arsenic-laden buffalo feces? Clearly, Froot Loops are the smart choice. Thank you, Dr. Kennedy!

I could keep going, but this piece is so rich in mind-boggling quotes that I could just copy the whole thing verbatim. I'll leave the rest to you. Go. Read. Unreal.


Mrs. Chili said...

I'm sorry; I can't comment because I need both hands to pick my jaw up out of my lap.


Anonymous said...

mrschili alerted me to your blog, and my initial readings prompted me to put you on my blogroll.

mrschili is sitting across from me at the moment, dispensing her usual wit and wisdom

MAB said...

One should never, under any cicumstances, question the wisdom of Mrs. Chili. Welcome.