Home > Uncategorized > Organic Junk Food: Still Junk Food

Organic Junk Food: Still Junk Food

A quick disclaimer before we begin: I’m not a nutrionist, nor do I claim to be a “foodie” or any other phrase bloggers and “analysts” have adopted to pass themselves off as experts in a field where they’re woefully uneducated. What I do possess is some semblance of common sense and a desire to be honest with myself.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about “organic” and “natural” food and food ingredients.

Honestly, I’m not all that bothered by the feeling I have that a good number of people shop “organic” for the sake of maintaining an undeserved smug sense of superiority, nor am I annoyed specifically with the fact that the phrase seems to be an empty marketing ploy used with all the sincerity of snake-oil salesmen to jump onto the health-conscience bandwagon and artificially inflate prices on certain products. Rather, it’s the people who know better but pretend they don’t in an attempt to fool themselves and other people into thinking they’re making healthy choices that drive me up a wall.

Grocery Stores – especially the chains – provide the best examples of what I’m talking about. If you stand around the organic food section for long enough and watch all of the people that come through, you’ll notice that the vast majority enter those areas with the intention of buying healthy food and walk away with a cart full of what is, in essence, organic junk food. However, because the words “organic” and “natural” appear on the packaging, they give themselves a free pass. It’s great that there aren’t any preservatives in that bag of cheddar popcorn, but it’s still a bag of cheddar popcorn. And that box of frozen meat is still frozen food – it tastes hitty, it’s shitty for you, and it’s loaded with copious amounts of sodium.

Again, I’m not trying to lecture people on their diet or pass myself off as an expert. But folks? Enough already. Stop spending so much time, energy, and hard-earned money bullshitting yourselves. Just because they slap a certain label on junk food doesn’t magically transform it into something healthy and nutritious. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to cast judgment on you for devouring an entire bag of Pirate’s Booty in one sitting, but don’t think that it being in a certain aisle somehow makes doing so a healthy choice.

And don’t get me started on those 100 calorie packs. It’s amazing that people are willing to pay more for pre-sorted portions out of sheer laziness and unwillingness to count and/or learn how to judge measurements. And if they’re that concerned about your their, why buy the crap in the first place?

Buy organic because you’re making a statement about the manner in which food is processed or you prefer a certain product regardless of whatever words they decide to slap on the label, but don’t pee on your own feet and tell yourself that it’s raining. Junk food is junk food, and if you were serious about eating healthy you wouldn’t be buying some of that stuff to begin with.

Phew. Rant over. As always, share your thoughts and tell me how wrong you think I am.

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  1. April 9, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    I read this book the year before last called Skinny B***H, and one of the chapters in it talked about organic food, and how leniant the USDA guidelines for what is organic are. All these asses out there are buying stuff just because its stamped USDA organic, but they don’t realize that the stuff they are paying more money for really isnt that far off from that bag of lays a couple rows down or that tomato on the other side of the produce isle. They do it because, like you said, they feel like they are making a statement by doing so, and not because they’ve put any thought into why they might want to eat things that are “truly” organic.
    And calories are calories, something being organic or natural doesn’t take the math out of that.
    Actually, Skinny B***h was an interesting read, its geared mostly towards women but a lot of the information in it reads like someone is reading an interesting term paper to you. You should pick it up and browse through some of the chapters sometime, or I can give it to Sally to lend to you.

    • April 10, 2009 at 8:51 pm

      I feel like this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of Skinny B***h, and I’m pretty sure it had to be either you or Sally that mentioned it.

      I’ll let you know about borrowing it. My “to read” queue is so heavy right now it’s ridiculous.

  2. April 10, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    The organic food stuff I’m there on.

    I’m going to defend the 100 calorie packs, as they’re very useful in the land of the desk job. You’re prepping your lunch for the day, and you know you are going to want to eat something for a snack. Either you sit there counting out stuff, doing the math on how many calories are in the 5/8 of a serving you’re apportioned yourself to get right to that number, or you end up just grabbing a “handful” of something that inevitably ends up being more than you should, or you just bring a box of something that you eat too much of. This makes the whole process move much quicker and helps keep you on diet course. And really, I value my time at a high enough rate that I’ll drop the extra dollar to have everything pre-portioned for me and set up in neatly sealed bags rather than futzing around at 7 in the morning.

    • April 10, 2009 at 8:48 pm

      Good point. But to nitpick one minor point you made – if there’s that much of a concern about how a work snack impacts a calorie count, why not bring an apple instead? It’s far more nutritious, fewer calories, and will actually be more filling.

  3. April 10, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Or you could not buy organic vegetables?

    Think about it: Organic veggies yield less per acre than non-organic veggies. So if we, as a species, are really concerned about feeding everyone and stopping hunger, we might want to get the most bang for our buck.

    • April 10, 2009 at 8:50 pm

      Really, really good point. One could also bring up points towards energy conservation – fewer large farms producing copious amounts of vegetables and transporting them emits less carbon and consumes less energy than many more smaller farms doing the same. I’m not really on the bandwagon when it comes to presenting OCD environmental pros and cons in a debate, but it’s something to consider at the very least.

      • April 11, 2009 at 3:27 pm

        If you really want to lower your carbon footprint, become a vegetarian. But you get the idea.

  4. Anonymous
    June 2, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Organic Junk Food: Still Junk Food

    I don’t eat organic food because I am trying to eat healthy.

    I eat organic food because I don’t like what a lot of conventional farmers are doing to our food supply.

    On one level this has to do with pesticides. And their possible cumulative effects on me and my children.

    On another level it has to do with genetically modified foods. Not genetically engineered foods. There is a difference. Apples have been genetically engineered for centuries, grafting root stock of one type of apple onto the tree of another. It makes for some tasty fruit.

    I don’t trust the idea of putting genes from things that are not plants into plants. The concern isn’t that they will harm me. The concern is that ecosystems, while resilient to a lot, are still a mystery. There is some alarming anecdotal evidence to suggest genetically modifying crops is doing some wacky things to nature.

    [this is long sorry]

    Regrettably genetically modified food is not labeled. But we have been assured that organic foods are free from genetically modified ingredients.

    If I vote with my wallet, this is the ballot I will cast.

    Yes, I completely understand your rant about people doing ridiculous things without thinking about it. But let me assure you, it is not all people.

    Still, I don’t think I could ever bring myself to buy a box of organic Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. But I do think it’s the ideologues who end up buying them for likely the above reasons. Crazy making, I know.

    Best,
    Daniel B.

    • June 4, 2009 at 2:44 pm

      Re: Organic Junk Food: Still Junk Food

      Oh, I have no gripes with folks like yourself who choose organic as a socio-political statement or who are just uncomfortable with all the preservatives and unnatural (and potentially hazardous) processes that go into most foods you find on the store’s shelves. I said as much in the blog, though in looking at it really didn’t provide as much space as I should have for that disclaimer.

      This rant of mine was directed specifically at people who buy organic with the “crash diet” mentality and end up still putting nothing but junk into their bodies.

      Personally, I feel I should take your approach when shopping for food. Money and – to put it bluntly – my own ignorance often prevent me from doing as such.

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