The Free Range Gourmet Free range thoughts on the finest ingredients, cuisine, and fine dining in Hawaii.

Range Gourmet

  Local Hawaii ingredients used with an international flair

        ^BNanette^K^H (Gone but not forgotten) 1946-2020


Monday, November 06, 2006


But you already knew this: all that you find in the health food store isn't good for you

These days you don't have to be much of a detective to figure out that the "healthy" cereals sold in every health-food store can be full of sugars or worse. They just call sugar "evaporated cane juice." Corn syrups, maltodextrins, and high-fructose corn syrup won't fool you either, and you know that full-fat milk is not a good thing to drink.

You also know that the vegetable soup on sale at Kokua Market in cartons has enough salt in one portion that it should be marked as a biohazard.

Of course, the health-food store will happily sell you all that bad stuff and more without feeling any guilt over what the food will do to you. So it's refreshing to read about a retailer who actually discloses which products on the shelf are ok to buy and which could make a nutritionist pass out in the shopping isle.

Check out this New York Times story, which should remain on their website (free registration required) for about a week or two before going into their pay archives: The Package May Say Healthy, but This Grocer Begs to Differ.
The chain, Hannaford Brothers, developed a system called Guiding Stars that rated the nutritional value of nearly all the food and drinks at its stores from zero to three stars. Of the 27,000 products that were plugged into Hannaford’s formula, 77 percent received no stars, including many, if not most, of the processed foods that advertise themselves as good for you.

These included V8 vegetable juice (too much sodium), Campbell’s Healthy Request Tomato soup (ditto), most Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen dinners (ditto) and nearly all yogurt with fruit (too much sugar). Whole milk? Too much fat — no stars. Predictably, most fruits and vegetables did earn three stars, as did things like salmon and Post Grape-Nuts cereal.

.  .  .

The store chain, with 158 supermarkets in five states, is believed to be the first grocery retailer to have developed such a comprehensive assessment program, and it is trying to have its food-rating algorithm patented.

.  .  .

Admirers of Guiding Stars say the ratings illustrate how nutrition claims on packages can mislead consumers even if they are technically true. Many packages trumpet the benefits of a few attributes — high fiber, for instance, or no trans fats — while ignoring negatives like too much sodium, they said.

.  .  .

Many products that are marketed as healthy received zero stars from Hannaford because they contain too much salt or sugar or not enough nutrients, said Lisa A. Sutherland, an assistant professor of pediatrics and a nutrition scientist at Dartmouth Medical School who was part of the advisory panel that developed Hannaford’s formula.
With all the publicity around children's obesity and the increasing rates of diabetes, wouldn't it be great if some stores in Hawaii adopted this or a similar system?

I'm not holding my breath, but at the same time, I hope some of them are reading this. You could clip the Times article and give it to them (hint, hint).


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