Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Food Paradox

We all know how to eat well. Everyday we are reminded how by the media, the health experts and even the food packaging. Walk down any grocery store aisle and you will be bombarded with food products screaming healthy messages: low fat, transfat free, low sodium, natural, light, 0 calories, whole grains, fibre!  It's all so confusing and at times often hard to believe.  For instance, let’s take Froot Loops, a popular breakfast cereal.  The packaging says it is “made with whole grain and a source of fibre,” plus it is blessed with having “natural fruit flavours.”  I have often wondered how or what could be natural about brightly coloured lifesaver shaped cereal that appears to be coated in sugar.  It’s paradoxical to me so I decided to buy a box to experience the ‘natural fruit flavour’ taste. 
  
Full disclosure, I do not eat cereal. I overdosed on the stuff as a kid, but for this paradoxical experiment I was willing to chow down on some.  I poured the breakfast cereal into a white round bowl and I must admit, they were colourful, like the rainbow - orange, rose, natural (or was that yellow) and green.  First I tried the green loop.  I’m not sure what flavour green was trying to be, it was kinda like me trying to grow vegetables and not quite succeeding but getting an E for effort (good try green!)  The rose was faintly like cherry. I was hoping the purple  would be grape (my favourite flavour), but it was like opening up a birthday present expecting money but getting a t-shirt…a slight disappointment (nice attempt purple!)  The orange was the definite winner with the most flavour.  The yellow? Well, it reminded me of a distant memory, one you just can’t quite recall. It had a slight lingering taste of lemon (keep trying yellow!) But, to be honest, they mostly tasted like sugar.  Because I have a sweet tooth, I kept eating them under the guise I was tasting for “natural fruit flavours.”  After many spoonfuls I quickly realized why my kids would eat so many bowls of cereal in the morning. It's hard to stop.

So what exactly is a natural fruit flavour? I phoned Kellogg’s and asked if they used actual fruit in Froot Loops (obvious question, right?) I was told that, they do not take the natural fruit from a particular fruit. Natural fruit flavour is not the equivalent to natural fruit. They make the flavour from natural ingredients but not the fruit itself.  Shucks! I thought they were using real fruit to flavour the loops. This explains the curious flavours I tasted.   


So how much sugar is in a bowl of fruit loops I wondered?  I measured out 1 1/2 cups of cereal, which is what I would eat, however, the package states that is 2 servings (one serving is 3/4 cup…hard to believe!) The 2 servings has the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of sugar or 24 grams.  Could you imagine spooning in 6 teaspoons of sugar into your morning coffee?  If I did that, I’d be so wired my husband would have to lock me in the bathroom until I stopped talking!  After searching the infinite information site, Google, I learnt that my daily limit of sugar was 6 teaspoons.  This means, all my daily sugar fun would end after 1 bowl of morning cereal.  Dang!  Are the loops worth all my daily fun?  I don’t think so. I’m going to stick with porridge and enjoy its true natural flavour with  a sprinkle of brown sugar because then I know I won’t overdose on my allowable sugar rations first thing in the morning. 

I’ve come to believe that just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge food by its package. 


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