Saturday, December 27, 2014

So-called 'Health' food - the fine print

The consumer trend toward "natural" and "healthy" foods has been going on for a while, and is getting a boost as many aspects, such as "organic," overlap with environmental concerns. Two pages I happened across today attempt to help you navigate your way through these claims.

So-called 'Health' food - the fine print

The consumer trend toward "natural" and "healthy" foods has been going on for a while, and is getting a boost as many aspects, such as "organic," overlap with environmental concerns.

But as with most phenomena that involve marketing, it's not always assured that these terms are being used 100% accurately - in fact, you can pretty much be assured they're not. "Organic" is a term that's now at least regulated by the USDA, but as it turns out even that allows for unexpected wiggle room.

Two pages I happened across today attempt to help you navigate your way through these claims. One is an article on the Wall Street Journal's "Health Journal," The Fine Print: What's Really in a Lot of 'Healthy' Foods.

Though nowhere near exhaustive (it doesn't even address the longtime debate about whether excessive levels if mercury and PCBs in fish make this "health" food worth eating or not), it surveys a lot of the most common foods and additives that people are looking for as healthy or unhealthy and tries to sort them out, including "wheat bread," salt substitutes, fiber, artificial sweeteners, trans fat, yogurt, "super water" and Omega 3s. It leads off with an explanation of "plumped" chicken with added saltwater, something most chicken buyers are unaware they're buying because this is still able to be labeled All Natural.

"So-called enhanced or 'plumped' chicken," the article states, "has between 200 and 400 mgs of sodium per serving, almost as much as a serving of fast-food french fries."

French fries - that's something we know is unhealthy, but even among comfort foods there may be some surprises.Sugar Stacks makes it easy to see how much sugar different foods contain with simple visual photo illustrations of the food with an appropriate number of sugar cubes next to it. And it covers not just junk food and other processed varieties but fresh fruits and vegetables as well. There are some surprises here, too - who'da thunk strawberries had so little sugar compared to other fruits?

Feel free to add your favorite resources for food info in the comments. The more we educate ourselves about the realities of our food, the better choices we can make for ourselves and for the planet.

About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to energy@phillynews.com.


Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.


Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.


Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.


Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.


Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...


Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.


Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.


Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.


In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man





    Earth to Philly
  • Latest Health Videos
    Also on Philly.com:
    Stay Connected