'Great For You' Food? Says Who?

Wal-Mart is labeling foods that they deem healthy. Will you buy into it?

As a perpetually weight-conscious woman and health-conscious mother, buying healthy foods is of paramount importance to me. The obesity epidemic is real. So I appreciate it when the FDA and certain cities (like New York) try to make people more aware of what's in food they consume before they eat it. It still boggles my mind that someone can look at the calorie count of a Supersize Big Mac Meal and still let themselves order it -- with an apple pie and strawberry shake on the side. But hey, if you know what you’re getting into, that’s your choice. Sometimes pigging out feels necessary (PMS, hangovers, breakups, etc.).

What ruffles my Ruffles is when major corporations try and sell me what’s good for me. Sure, diet soda has zero calories, but it’s still loaded with chemicals that no one should be ingesting by the liter. (You heard about the Mountain Dew and the Mouse experiment, right?) It's hardly a healthy choice.

Now Wal-Mart is getting into the food-policing business.

According to the Wal-Mart web site, foods with the "Great For You" label have reduced sodium or added sugars, and the trans-fats have been removed. As a woman of color from Brooklyn, I can appreciate any food manufacturer who adopts healthier food initiatives and attempts to address “food deserts” in lower-income areas. But even while First Lady Michelle Obama gave Wal-Mart the thumbs up for their efforts, I still give them a stern side-eye. Could Wal-Mart's standards be subjective, unscientific, unregulated and misleading? Probably.

Under Wal-Mart’s own pre-determined criteria, eggs almost didn’t make the cut (really, a completely unprocessed food?). And the label will also be placed on fruits and vegetables to make healthy foods “quickly identifiable.” Color me jaded, but it’s a bit sad if a cucumber needs a sticker announcing it’s healthy. Or that Captain Crunch, without a label, is not. No matter how frazzled for time you are, taking shortcuts in the grocery store seems short-sighted. Might be worth the extra minute to read the full label, instead of relying on visual cues to choose your food.

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