When Good/Healthy Things Become Trends/Money Makers

Fish oil in orange juice? Powdered beets in peanut butter? Yogurt bacteria in salsa? Yes, my friends, the time has come when you can eat anything you want, but have all the nutritional benefits to save your body and the world! A recent article in the New York Times reports that many food companies are putting additives (called nutraceuticals) in foods that don’t normally have those kind of nutrients or healing powers. They claim the goal is to help buyers have stronger bones, healthier skin, regular bowel movements, etc. My claim is that their goal is to sell more products. Somewhere in between these claims might be the real answer.

We all know that antioxidants, fiber, beta-carotene, etc… are all good and healthy for our bodies and some of these nutrients are proven to help prevent certain diseases or help fortify our bones and immune system. However, do we really need to de-construct foods and slip them into others and call them “healthy?” Most of the claims these food companies make about their fortified foods are not necessarily proven and they shouldn’t be taken as fact.  Health has become a business. Health food stores and health foods do quite well. In the past couple of years any time you slap “made with pomegranate juice,” “made with acai,” “organic,” or “local” people eat them up (literally). I’m not saying I don’t do it too. I’m just pointing out that healthful nutrients and green living has become a trend. Trends can be good when they help spread healthy information and healthful living. However, these nutraceuticals and organic foods are much more expensive and are all part of a business scheme that helps the big guys make more money. I’m not trying to be cynical, but I’m trying to be realistic. Fortunately and unfortunately all things organic have caught on, become a trend. However, farming practices have not. Organic farming has become an agri-business. Big organic farms may be farming organically but they are not doing it sustainably, nor are they doing it justly (wages for workers are not wages one can realistically live on). I want to eat “green” and I want to receive the added benefits these fortified foods offer, but I want to do it justly and I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it. So where do we go from here? I guess for now I’ll keep trying to know what’s in my food and where it comes from.

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