Listening to Michael Pollan

Definitely off target – to paraphrase Michael Pollan, don’t buy food where you shop for anything else: check out Cornucopia Institute’s post on the Target organic food troubles.

And paraphrasing Pollan again – don’t buy food that makes health claims. Apparently, working with the FDA after receiving a slap on the wrist from it, the Smart Choices program has been postponed. I for one am happy to see “Smart Choices” postponed, since its intent is not to improve the consumer’s health and education about healthful foods, but to maintain the big food companies’ bottom line in the face of growing concern about their products.

In “Smart grocery shopping,” Jennifer LaRue Huget points out that maybe the desire to get a checkmark is not a bad thing if the processors are forced to make their products healthier, but she is quick to note

…there’s another matter that makes me think Smart Choices wasn’t so smart. For all its carefully calibrated calculations, the program wasn’t designed to help me find the most healthful foods in the supermarket. Only companies that paid to join the program, including Kraft Foods and Kellogg, got the big checkmarks. So while whole-grain, low-sugar, nutrient-packed Post Grape-Nuts may be among the most healthful breakfast cereals, it has no checkmark because Post isn’t part of the system.

In an NPR story about Michelle Obama’s ongoing crusade to improve the health of our young people, Jocelyn Frye, director of policy and projects for the First Lady, has also thrown down the gauntlet, saying, “I think there are certainly companies that are exploring all sorts of ways to make foods healthier and to address these concerns about healthy eating and still be profitable in what they do. And we’re relying on them to do it.”

It will be interesting to see how this pans out; in the meantime, I’m not holding my breath – I’m going to keep listening to Michael Pollan’s advice and trying to buy whole, close to the source ingredients for my cooking.

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