Organic Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy

organic junk food

I ran across an interesting video that talks about organic junk food that I thought makes some really good points. Around the holidays, we’re all trying our best not to fall into the holiday junk food trap, and I think this is an important time to remember that organic junk food is still junk food.

They had me until around 2:25. While the video makes some great points about organic junk food, I think it is important to choose not just whole foods, but organically grown whole foods whenever possible, for the very reasons that the video mentions at the very beginning:

  • organic food is not genetically modified
  • it’s grown in a way that’s healthier for the planet
  • it contains fewer pesticide residues

There’s a lot of debate over whether organic food is healthier, and for me what it comes down to are pesticide residues and the environmental impacts, but let’s set that all aside and talk about the meat of the video: organic junk food.

Organic Junk Food is Not Health Food

Like they mention in the video, organic cookies are still cookies, and organic soda pop is still loaded with sugar. Yes, the ingredients are healthier than genetically modified, high fructose corn syrup-laden junk food, but sugary and salty treats aren’t good for you, whether those sugary or salty treats are organic or not. The organic ones are just less bad for you.

That isn’t to say that we should never ever eat cookies, but I think it’s important to remember that cookies aren’t good for us, no matter what the ingredients.

During the holidays it can be super tricky to avoid those sugary and salty snacks – they are everywhere! Well-meaning coworkers bring them in to the office, family and friends arrive at gatherings with decadent treats in tow, and chances are you’re making or buying your share of unhealthy holiday fare, too. Spotting junk food is even more important during this time of year when the sheer volume of junk food seems to multiply.

The trouble with organic junk food is that it’s marketed to look like it’s healthy. When a coworker shows up with a plate of brownies, you know those brownies are not good for you, but what about that organic pumpkin pie you were eyeing at the store? Surely, that’s not junk food, right?

Yes and no. An organic pie made with whole food ingredients is certainly a better choice, but we’re still talking about a high fat, high sugar food. If you’re going to eat a pie or brownies, choosing one that’s got healthier ingredients is great, but what marketers often want to do is make us feel like that organic pie isn’t still a pie.

From a marketing perspective, this makes a lot of sense! Health-conscious people are less likely to buy junk food, so packaging it in a way that makes it look healthy makes us more likely to indulge. Just like greenwashing, this healthwashing is detrimental to consumers and it’s meant to mislead us. An organic box of sandwich cookies with a picture of rolling hills and a beautiful blue sky is still a box of cookies.

So, what are some better choices for holiday fare? You can treat yourself during the holidays without falling into the junk food trap! It’s also OK if you want to indulge in that box of Ginger Newman O’s (my favorite!) from time to time. Just remember that even though those cookies are vegan and made from better ingredients, they’re still an indulgence.

Stay tuned! Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about some healthier alternatives to organic junk food!

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by CarbonNYC

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