Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Organic Junk Food

No, that is not an oxymoron, but it seems that many people would seem to think so.  I am not one to judge, as I sit her in a Halloween candy induced semi-coma, but I do think we should clear up a few terms.  People need to be talking about nutrition with their families and friends.  Our children have more choices than ever before and will need to be well armed with knowledge to make life-long healthy choices.
Organic does not mean it is good for you.  Better? yes, possibly, but not necessarily good.  A few examples are: organic potato chips, organic candy coated chocolate drops  (“m&m’s”), organic chocolate sandwich cookies (“oreos”)and organic gummy fruits.   None of these items, organic or not, are good for you.  The organic versions are better than the originals, in that they don’t contain artificial flavors or colors, preservatives, or partially hydrogenated oils just to name a few of the really bad guys in the originals.  If a person were craving on of the aforementioned items, and was going to eat it no matter what, then the organic version would be a better choice.  Not a good choice, but a better choice. 
Natural is another one of those confusing terms, but it is even worse than organic from meaning good for you.  Organic is at least regulated by the Federal government.  The term Natural really has no legs to stand on.  It is not regulated by the FDA or USDA.  The word “natural” can just be slapped on a label and there is not much anyone can say to question it.
One last term that I have seen a lot is Farm Fresh.  Like Natural, this term really has no clear definition or anyone to enforce it.  The item does not have to be “fresh”, meaning it was made or grown recently in relation to competitors, or from a “farm”.  Farm fresh is just a fun alliteration put on labels to sell food to well meaning shoppers.
So the conclusion here is that processed food is not as good for you as real, whole food.  Of course, organic “real” food is better than non-organic.  We have to stop pretending that junk food isn’t junk food when it is organic.  Lunch boxes should not contain cookies, organic or not.  My favorite example of organic junk food is those yogurts in a tube.  They are filled with sugar and give children another opportunity to not sit and eat with silverware at a table.  Mid morning or afternoon snacks should be organic fruit, veggies, low-fat dairy products, nuts, etc. NOT organic cookies, chips, candies, and “fruit” snacks.
Don’t get me wrong, we eat our fair share of junk food in our house, mostly in the form of home baked goods!  We try to include organic fruits and veggies with every meal and snack, to counter act the not so healthy things we eat.  We try to teach our children why we eat healthy food, and what our bodies need vs. what we sometimes want.  We eat non-organic junk food too, on occasion.   We don’t however, try to pass off junk food as anything other that that - JUNK.  We live by the “everything in moderation” motto.  It works for us!   What works for you and your family when it comes to nutrition?

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