From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine
Dear EarthTalk: I see a lot of “healthy snacks” being marketed for kids that list “natural flavors” but don’t identify them. Should I use these products? — John Stein, Methuen, MA
Beloved food writer Michael Pollan recommends steering clear of foods that advertise their green attributes on their label. According to his line of reasoning, why give a child a fruit roll-up when you can give him or her a piece of fruit? Only processed foods need to advertise what’s natural about them, whereas an apple speaks for itself, providing wholesome nutrition without the need for marketing hype.
But most of us depend on the occasional packaged or processed food, so choosing between the lesser of two evils sometimes has to be the way to go. If a product lists natural ingredients on its label—anything from real fruits, vegetables and nuts to cereals, grains and other healthy foods you can recognize without a food dictionary on hand—it’s probably better than a food reliant on artificial flavors and sweeteners.