How to Snack Responsibly in the New World of Health Food Marketing

The growth of the Primal movement has not gone unnoticed. Food producers have latched on because, as much as we emphasize foraging the perimeter of the grocery store—the produce, the meats, the bulk goods—and eschewing processed foods, we remain creatures of convenience. Not everyone has the time or inclination to personally prepare every single morsel that enters their mouths. Sometimes we just need something quick and easy to snack on. And the food industry has risen to the occasion, offering ostensibly healthy Primal-friendly snack foods. But are they really healthy? It’s certainly better than previous incarnations of “healthy snack food.” I’m thinking of the low-fat craze of the 90s, which spawned such obesogenic fare as non-fat Snackwells and yogurts, which made up for the missing fat with extra sugar, and the unholy chips cooked in artificial fat your body couldn’t even absorb—but that your underwear certainly could. This era saw obesity and diabetes rates skyrocket. Then there are the “100% real juice” products (as opposed to what? I gotta ask). You’d hope the juice is “real.” And don’t forget about the “healthy whole grains” emblazoned across anything with even a hint of bran and germ. It should just read “soon-to-be sugar, plus some gut irritants.” The “no high fructose corn syrup” labels that gloss over the fact that they’ve simply replaced HFCS with an equal (and equally damaging) amount of sugar. The fancy names for sugar: “Evaporated cane juice” (mined from natural sugar springs, no doubt), “crystalline fructose” (ooh, it must be breathtaking under a microscope!), “agave nectar” (hand milked from heritage agave plants on ancestral Hohokam tribal lands, no doubt), “brown rice syrup” (hey, that’s a healthywholegrain!), “raw sugar” (it’s kinda brown so it must be good for you), and all the others. It’s easy to poke holes in conventionally-healthy snack foods. That’s what we do around here. But what about the growing number of snack foods marketed to Primal, paleo, and “real food” consumers—are they good for us? Some are, some aren’t. As I said, we like convenience. Often, we require it just to stay sane and make life go smoothly. Snack food will be on the menu, so we need to understand how to navigate the sordid world of Primal-friendly snack food. How can we do it? What should we watch out for? Let’s get one thing out of the way first: Primal (or paleo) doesn’t mean healthy. Is honey Primal? Sure. Are dates? Yep. How about cacao? Of course. And tapioca starch? I’ll give it to you. Coconut oil? Hell yes. Combining excessive amounts of them all into an amorphous blob doesn’t make the healthiest thing you can eat, though. It gives you a subpar brownie if not done correctly. We all agree that nuts can be a beneficial part of a healthy Primal eating plan, but that doesn’t mean you should grind up a cup of them, throw in some coconut milk, coconut syrup, and eggs and make pancakes every morning. So here are a few things you should do … Continue reading How to Snack Responsibly in the New World of Health Food Marketing