So there I was, rummaging through the kitchen for something healthy to eat, when my friend says “you should try these fruit bars, they’re good for you.” At first I thought he had gone temporarily insane and started searching for a weapon with which to defend myself from his inevitable violent explosion. However, after failing to find anything but a plastic spoon (not recommended for self defense against rage fueled zombies), I turned around and attempted to reason with him (while slowly edging towards the door).
“What do you mean, healthy?” I said, disguising my fear with a nonchalant question. “Well, they contain fruit and whole grains” he said, confirming his insanity. This is the point where I nodded noncommittally and ran for my life, but I swore that I would return to that kitchen and figure out what the heck had caused his derangement.
So later on that day, I walk towards the junk food bins and I see a very pretty package with pictures of fruit and whole grains appealingly posted on the outside. I’m not going to mention the name of the manufacturer because I don’t want be sued, but it rhymed with “Waker Coats”. The packaging even mentioned something about “contains real fruit!” as though previous fruit bars were nothing but chemicals and sugar (which they are I suppose). Either way, it seemed at first that my friend was fooled by a clever marketing ploy. Namely, fruits and whole grains! These have become some sort of symbol where, if your product contains them it MUST be healthy. However, anyone who bothers to look a bit closer could easily see that was nothing more than crap in a pretty package.
Allow me to point you in the direction of the picture I included in this post. Yes, that’s the ingredient list of this “healthy and wholesome” fruit bar. This is the point at which I began to doubt my friend’s intelligence. How the heck could he have looked at this ingredient list and not seen “crap in a pretty package”? Was he crazy? Unfortunately, all joking aside, my friend’s poor decision is more common than you think. Lots of us fall for pretty packaging promising us “three daily servings of calcium!”, “whole grains!”, “Twice your daily vegetables” or what not when what we’re really eating is “crap in a pretty package”. (I like that term!)
So without further ado, here are five simple rules for determining if what you’re about to put in your mouth is CRAP IN A PRETTY PACKAGE!
- One of the first five ingredients is sugar – In this case, both the crust and the filling have sugar in the top 5. The crust has high fructose corn syrup while the filling has fructose. The topping manages to top things off (sorry for the awful pun) by having sugar in the top spot.
- There are more than five ingredients – No offense, but food should not be this complicated. If it’s got more than five ingredients (I’m willing to go up to 7 or 8 if it’s Indian cuisine) then it’s probably crap.
- More than two ingredients sound like something that would be on a high school chemistry test – Thiamin Mononitrate? Sorbitol? Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate?!?!? Pyridoxine Hydrocholoride?!?! Are you kidding me? Is this a candy bar or a science project? I feel like any minute this fruit bar will be hit by lightning and start screaming “It’s ALIVE!” (If you don’t get the reference, shame on you!)
- It comes in a pretty plastic package – Nature does not package its food (unless you count banana peels in which case it does but those are definitely not plastic). If your food comes in a plastic package, you’re eating crap that was made in a factory. (ok, I know, Trader Joe’s sells apples and other fruit in plastic containers. You know exactly what I mean so stop nitpicking).
- It doesn’t require refridgeration and has a very long shelf life – Food spoils, usually pretty quickly. With the exception of the potatoes in the bottom drawer of my fridge, most food will spoil within days or weeks if left unfrozen. If whatever you’re eating has an expiration date on it that is more than 6 months away, I’m guessing it has preservatives in it that you don’t want inside you.
Are there exceptions to all these rules? Sure. But in general, you know I’m right. So stop pretending like you don’t know what crappy food is and go out and enjoy something good!