Why is anyone surprised that products carrying the “Smart Choices” seal may not be too smart? After all, the manufacturers doing the choosing are in business to sell calories, not health. And in a country that produces more calories than we could possibly consume (by last count, around 3900 per person per day), manufacturers seek every advantage – from plastic toys in the carton to nutrition claims on the carton – to make the sale.
The problem is too many of us choose to not think about the food we eat, abdicating our decision-making to people who may not have our best interests at heart. Instead, we approach most meals like a NASCAR pit stop, stopping just long enough to slam down some “fuel”, while mostly ignoring the health impact (or benefit) of our choice. So if Jeff Gordon burns high octane super-premium, why do so many of us run on low-test and expect it to not affect performance?
Instead of relying on industry-supported health standards, shoppers need to take responsibility for making their own smart choices. The good news is, with very little effort, you can find places with more to offer than empty calories. The outer ring of most grocery stores is a good place to start. Likewise, farmer markets and natural food co-ops offer healthy, sustainable food plus have knowledgeable staff to help you understand the difference between whole grains and donut holes.
So next time you need to refuel, take a second to think about what you’re doing. After all, your smartest choice might be to ignore the nutrition claims on the carton and instead focus on the secret spy decoder ring inside the box.