Not buying packaged foods = not buying bogus health claims

This morning I read a rant on Michael Ruhlman’s blog about corn syrup hidden in his fat-free half-and-half. (Ruhlman also rightly pointed out that there’s no such thing as fat-free half-and-half; one of the “halfs” refers to cream, and what’s the point without the fat?)

This led me to a New York Times editorial about misleading food labels making all kinds of claims, from boosting immunity to preventing cancer. That reminded me of this article, which described the bad-tasting results when unhealthy salt levels are reduced in processed foods.

Once again, I am reminded of Michael Pollan‘s tenet not to believe any health claims made on food packaging, even claims that the food is healthier because it’s low in fat or salt. The best way to ignore these health claims is to buy food with no packaging at all. I’m talking about whole fruits and vegetables, foods sold in bulk, meats butchered and packaged at the store. I even buy my milk products in label-less glass bottles; it comes from a local dairy farm, no corn syrup included.

Of course, this strategy isn’t possible for all foods, but it is available for more foods than you might think. And some of the packaged foods you can probably live without. So don’t buy into the bogus health claims. Don’t buy them at all.

Misleading Food Labels (Michael Ruhlman)
Snake Oil for Breakfast (New York Times)
The War on the Cheez-It (National Review Online)

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