The New Food Fight: Big Food Vs. Big Organic

Have the elite hijacked healthy eating?

By David H. Freedman from The Atlantic
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine October 2013

Craig Cutler for Reader’s Digest

Real Food Is Fattening Too
Let’s go shopping. We can start at Whole Foods, a critical link in the wholesome-eating food chain. There are three within 15 minutes of my house—we’re big on real food in the suburbs west of Boston. Here at the largest of the three, I can choose from more than 21 types of tofu, 62 bins of organic grains and legumes, and 42 different salad greens.

Much of the food isn’t that different from what I can get in any other supermarket, but sprinkled throughout are items that scream “wholesome.” One that catches my eye, sitting prominently on an impulse-buy rack near checkout, is Vegan Cheesy Salad Booster, from Living Intentions, whose package emphasizes the fact that the food is enhanced with spirulina, chlorella, and sea vegetables. The label also proudly lets me know that the contents are raw—no processing!—and that they don’t contain any genetically modified ingredients. What the stuff does contain, though, is more than three times the fat content per ounce of the beef patty in a Big Mac (meaning that more than two thirds of the calories come from fat) and four times the sodium.

After my excursion to Whole Foods, I drive a few minutes to a Trader Joe’s, also known for an
emphasis on wholesome foods. At the register, I’m confronted with a large display of a snack food called Inner Peas, consisting of peas that are breaded in cornmeal and rice flour, fried in sunflower oil, and then sprinkled with salt. By weight, the snack has six times as much fat as it does protein, along with loads of carbohydrates. I can’t recall ever seeing anything at any fast-food restaurant that represents as big an obesogenic crime against the vegetable kingdom. (Trader Joe’s website now states that the recipe has recently changed to reduce fat and raise protein. Living Intentions did not respond to a request for comment.) I’m not picking out rare, less healthy examples from these stores. Check out their products’ nutrition labels online: fat, sugar, and other refined carbs abound.

Next: But chemicals are bad … right? »

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  • Your Comments

    • adrienrain

      McDonald’s was using pink slime in their ‘meat’ and only stopped when the word got out and consumers were up in arms about it. They also used to put meat extracts in their french fries – without bothering to inform those avoiding meat. They will feed you anything – they really don’t care – and they will tell you as little as possible about it. I don’t trust them at all, because I’ve LEARNED not to trust them. Meanwhile, their employees are paid so little that many of them qualify for welfare. . . . a bad deal all around.

    • JAWDOPPED

      Insane. Can I take a dump on a plate and become a contributor to Readers Digest. And the cover story no less??? This is literary terrorism.