We couldn’t resist! Here’s a second part to last week’s public shaming of grocery store items we consider to be highly abnormal. Whether because of food industry trickery or simply being desensitized from prolonged exposure, we all too often forget that a lot of what we see in the grocery store can only be loosely referred to as food. But when you are really looking for them, they seem to leap off of the shelves, bright unnatural colours and all!
Just how abnormal are these foods? Can we act surprised that their nutritional value is negligible if we take a close look at the ingredient list?
Here’s a breakdown of another five foods* that make their way into many grocery carts despite containing very few real ingredients – tofu sausages, Lunchables, Snow Ball snack cakes, Fruit Gushers fruit treats and Hot Pockets.
As with last week, we have categorized ingredients as either “real” or “abnormal”. By abnormal we mean those you yourself would not add while cooking nor be able to buy at the grocery store. This includes added vitamins and minerals – I don’t know many people who sprinkle them on food!
Faux-Meat Veggie Sausages
… Number of ingredients: 23
… Abnormal ingredients: 15
Our general rule of thumb? If it’s shaped, coloured and flavoured to mimic something completely different than what it actually is, it is probably not that good for you. While the saturated fat and cholesterol content is much lower in the tofu-based, faux-sausage that’s where the differences end – the sodium content in a comparable meat sausage is virtually identical (if not a bit lower) than the tofu-extruded variety.
Our advice: avoid heavily processed, potentially GMO-laden, soy faux-meat products whenever possible.
… Number of ingredients: 54
… Abnormal ingredients: 29
The ham and cheese sandwich with chocolate pudding and bottled water *appears* to have the nostalgic makings of a reasonably balanced lunch, yet there are a whopping 9 different types of sodium preservatives in this meal combo, five of which are in the ham alone, including the dreaded sodium nitrite.
In addition to a sodium blast of 1140 mg, these preservatives also render the ham and cheese component completely immune to decay. Trust me on this. I actually did an experiment with this in junior high school – we left a Lunchable out for several weeks… and nothing happened. No mould. No smell even. The meat and cheese looked vaguely sweaty, but that was about it. Moral of the story? No one should eat food that does not decompose, especially not children.
Snow Ball snack cake
… Number of ingredients: 36
… Abnormal ingredients: 23
This may seem a bit like kicking a guy when he’s down considering Hostess is out of business, but there are Snow Ball imposters popping up everywhere to fill the snack cake-void. We realize that few people pick up a Snow Ball thinking it’s a health food, but did you know that an ingredient found in them (and most dyed pink and red foods) comes from bugs and can cause nasty allergic reactions?
Carmine colouring, which is extracted from boiling cochineal insects, can cause severe allergic reactions and until recently was only labeled as “colour” on ingredient lists. While the US FDA and Health Canada have introduced regulations requiring proper labeling all foods and cosmetics containing carmine, we still say beware of bright, unnaturally red food!
Triple Berry Fruit Gushers
… Number of ingredients: 22
… Abnormal ingredients: 16
The box touts “made with real fruit” and “good source of vitamin C” – does this actually pass as fruit now?!? Last we checked, fruit had only one ingredient – fruit! Three forms of corn and an indiscriminate “Red 40, Blue 1 And Other Color Added” does not a fruit make. We find the attempt at parental ambush, “makes Mom smile”, the most offensive though. A recent study published in Public Health Nutrition found that foods targeting parents are often low in nutrition and more likely to use sales pitches involving “fun” and “no guilt.”
… Number of ingredients: 75
… Abnormal ingredients: 39
We think the sheer number of ingredients speaks for themselves – an unappetizing array of imitation this, artificial that and preservatives. When a stand-up comic has an entire bit devoted solely to how suspect Hot Pockets are, you know they’re trouble!