How is health food any healthier?

This is something I’ve been asking for a while.  How is health food really any healthier than regular food?

Hear me out here.

Yesterday, I went to the local Safeway (grocery store in the southwest of the USA) and picked up a  couple bags of ‘snap pea crisps’.  They are fried snap peas, fried in corn oil and have some rice flour dusted on them.  They are really good, and one of my snacks of choice when I’m in the mood for a ‘chip’. 

However, this bag of snap pea crisps is the exact same bag of snap pea crisps I can get at the health food store (I know, because that’s where I first found them) for about $1.50 US more than what I purchased them for at Safeway.  The same brand, the same size, the same everything.

So, how is that any healthier?

I know people are going to say that sometimes there are the same things or types of things in regular grocery stores and health food stores, and that this is just one of a small list of things that make more sense to get at a regular grocery store. 

Okay, lets compare apples to apples — or in this case, snap pea crisps to potato chips.  While I was at Safeway, I was picking up some potato chips for my mother-in-law.  And decided to do a comparison.  Both the snap peas and the potato chips have the same suggested serving size; one ounce.  Both the snap peas and the potato chips have the same calories per serving; 150.  The potato chips get 10 more calories per serving from fat than the potato chips do.  And the ingredients of both included corn oil for frying (and no other oils).

So, honestly, can you tell me what the difference is?  Why, when I’m eating the snap pea crisps, am I (or anybody) automatically considered to be having a ‘good’ snack, but when I’m eating potato chips,  I’m giving in and eating junk food?  And yes, on the snap pea crisps bag it does claim to be a healthy alternative to junk food.

I admit that there are a lot of reasons to buy food at a health food store.  Lower antibiotics in the meat and dairy, possibly fresher fruits and vegetables (especially if the health food store purchases their produce from local markets), usually a wider variety of oils, and generally the ability to find hard to find food items.  Add to all that the generally large selection of herbs and vitamins, and there are many reasons to support the local health food store.

To say that buying your food from the health food store makes it more healthy, which is then equated to losing weight for fat people?  From where I see it, not so much.

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4 Responses

  1. It is not buying it at a health food store that makes it healthier.
    It is the food itself and what it has in it or has left out that makes it better for you, of course. The price difference is often a matter of what deals the buyers can make based on quantity. Safeway, for example, is a huge buyer in terms of volume—and they get better price breaks on the same foods the smaller volume health food stores. A snack food with a bigger boost in actual nutrients IS better than empty calories. But yes, a lot of it is simply gloss.

    I suggest the book “An Omnivore’s Dilemma” to unsnarl all the ad-madness about healthy foods!

  2. You are absolutely correct that it’s what’s IN the food that makes it ‘healthier’ or not for a person.

    However, there is a disconnect in many people’s thinking.

    Fat people are being told to get organic and ‘health’ food, as that will make them lose weight. The simple answer is no. Organic and/or health food will not make a person lose weight.

    4 hours of exercise a day will not necessarily make a person lose weight.

    Like I said in a previous post, I can go to the health food store and stock up on “unhealthy” food there for more money than I can my local grocery store. Yes, the health food store has free trade chocolate (but it’s still chocolate and the sugar in the bar is ‘unhealthy’), and veggie chips (which are still fried in oil and have the same amount of calories per one ounce serving as potato chips have), and decieve myself that I’m being virtuous and eating “healthy”.

    Now, if we are talking about sustainability, supporting local markets, having our food not be raised on steroids and antibiotics which then get into our system because we ate it? Yes, MUCH MUCH healthier.

    But to say we (fat people specifically) are being more virtuous by bying our food there, and cooking our oatmeal for an hour for breakfast after soaking it in water overnight? Ummm, no. Not really.

    Length of time in preparation does not equal healthier for the body. And a thinner body also does not equal a healthier body.

  3. I don’t think anyone would categorize the snap pea crisps as healthy . . . it doesn’t matter where you buy them.

    boy are they good though.

  4. I definitely consider those snap pea crisps junk food. You can’t think of them as health food just because the package says so. They’re just like potato chips. Raw snap peas, on the other hand, are tasty and healthy. “Health food” stores, like Whole Foods, simply focus on eliminating ingredients like artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oils, and providing a range of natural and organic goods. That doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Organic food can certainly still be junk food.

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