Category Archives: Healthy Habits

What girls eat today could influence their risk of breast cancer tomorrow

mailThere are many women for whom breast cancer is part of their family tree. Heredity can play an important role in the development of this devastating disease. But there are other women with no family history of breast cancer who are diagnosed every year having no idea how this could have happened to them.

But new research from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that what some of those women ate years ago as a teenager may have played a role.

“We know from lots of other data that that period of life is a critical period,” said Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the Nutrition Department at the Harvard School of Public Health. “And the one thing that has been seen most clearly is consumption of red meat — both fresh meat and processed meat — during adolescence is related to higher risk of breast cancer.”

Researcher Maryam Farvid reviewed the data from nearly 45,000 women. She said girls don’t have to become vegetarians.

“If you just go from having red meat once a day to once a week, you can eliminate most of the risk,” Farvid said.

Researchers recommend choosing other forms of protein like nuts, beans, poultry and fish.

“That is the one thing that parents can steer their children towards to reduce their risk of breast cancer in the long run,” Willett said.

As for weight gain, research shows women increase their risk when they add pounds after menopause.

But as teenagers, it’s complicated.

“We actually see that the leaner girls have a higher risk of breast cancer later in life,” Willet said. “It’s quite a puzzle. It’s opposite to what everyone expected.”

Figuring out these connections between diet and risk could be key to preventing breast cancer in the next generation.

But one large-scale nutrition study — funded by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation — will take time.

The Growing Up Today Study has been tracking thousands of kids closely since 1996, but the oldest ones just turned 30.

“The participants have not really been old enough to start developing breast cancer yet, but within a decade or two, they will be.”

FoodFacts.com knows that everyone in our community works hard to make sure that their children are consuming nutritious, balanced diets. When it comes to breast cancer, nutritional awareness should take a front row seat in the educational process that can help us lower not only our own risk, but our daughters’ as well.

Read more:http://www.wcvb.com/health/leaner-girls-have-higher-risk-of-developing-breast-cancer-later-researchers-say/29014540#ixzz3HIapYaWu

We finally found the needle in the haystack — a real pumpkin product!

organicslide3Since the fall season began, FoodFacts.com has been on a bit of a mission. We’ve all been inundated with absolutely everything pumpkin this year. Pumpkin is in everything — or so fast food chains and food manufacturers are trying to tell us. But, for the most part, there’s really no actual pumpkin, or “pumpkin spice” in the lattes, coffees, donuts, puddings, waffles, toaster pastries or the other plethora of products we’re being offered.

We’ve located very few of these fall-flavored products that contain the ingredient they’re named for. And honestly, of those few we have located, the ingredient lists made us shy away from them anyway.

What’s a pumpkin lover to do?

Maybe you want to try Cedar’s Pumpkin Spice Hommos. If you enjoy hommos and the flavors of fall, this product really does have it all.

Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size: 2 tablespoons

Calories:              60
Fat:                      3.5 grams
Sodium:              55 mg
Sugar:                 3 grams

Ingredients: Fresh Steamed Chickpeas, Pumpkin, Water, Sunflower Oil, Sesame Tahini, Garlic, Sea Salt, Sugar, Citric Acid, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cumin, Guar Gum.

Pumpkin. Nutmeg. No controversial ingredients. Enviable nutrition facts. We haven’t found a pumpkin product that has this much to talk about all season long!

So, if you’ve been searching for the needle in the pumpkin haystack the same way we have here at FoodFacts.com, you may want to head out to the grocery store to give Cedar’s Pumpkin Spice Hommos a try. It’s great to be able to share some news about a pumpkin product you can feel good about!

http://www.cedarsfoods.com/products/hommus/all-natural-hommus-8-oz-16-oz/pumpkin-spice/

Fighting breast cancer in the kitchen

fishWe always hear about the things we shouldn’t be doing when it comes to fighting breast cancer and other diseases and health conditions. We already know that smoking and excessive alcohol consumption contribute to a greater risk of breast cancer. We’ve also heard that we should reduce our intake of red meat for the same reasons. But what should we be consuming that can help stave off breast cancer?

So tonight, FoodFacts.com wants to take a positive approach and look at some foods that help reduce our breast cancer risk.

Oily Fish
Recently, a study published in the British Medical Journal featuring data from over 800,000 participants and 20,000 breast cancer patients linked diets high in oily fish intake to a lower risk of breast cancer. Diets featuring fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel that contain high levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids work to help prevent breast cancer. Other sources of omega-3s are leafy greens, flaxseed and walnuts.

Berries
Featuring ellagic acid — a phytochemical linked to the prevention of a variety of cancers, including breast cancer, berries can make a big impact on your healthy diet. Both strawberries and raspberries are high in ellagic acid, but there are no bad-for-you berries — so enjoy!

Beans and other high fiber foods
Foods high in fiber have been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer. In fact, for every 10 grams of fiber, breast cancer risk has been shown to decrease by seven percent. Breast cancer risk reduction in roughly a half cup of beans — that’s a pretty big benefit!

Cruciferous vegetables
Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and kale are all members of the cruciferous vegetable family. A compound called sulforaphane is linked to fighting the spread of tumors.

Dairy
Research has shown that high levels of vitamin D and calcium lower breast density. Women with high breast density have four to five times the risk of developing breast cancer. While researchers haven’t yet determined whether it’s the vitamin D or calcium in your diet that lowers breast density, they do believe that low-fat dairy can help fight breast cancer development.

Tomatoes and other red and orange fruits and vegetables
A colorful plate has a positive effect on breast cancer. Fruits and vegetables that are high in carotenoids may reduce your risk of aggressive breast cancer by up to 20 percent. Carotenoids make for richly colored foods, so you’ll want to add fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, cantaloupe and mangos to your diet.

It’s always important to be proactive about our health. That doesn’t simply mean avoiding lifestyle habits that contribute to the risk of breast cancer. It also includes educating ourselves on the foods that can help us reduce our risks. During breast cancer awareness month, let’s get proactive and find creative and delicious ways to add the foods that can help us make a difference in our own health to the menu!

Pushing the pumpkin envelope … Chobani Pumpkin Spice Yogurt

blended-pumpkin-spice-53ozSome would say it’s out of control. Others can’t get enough. Pumpkin flavored food products are absolutely everywhere this fall. We’ve been trying to keep up with all of them, but admittedly it’s been pretty hard. It does feel as though almost every new product introduced has the word pumpkin somewhere on its label. So what’s next?

Yogurt. Yep — Chobani has introduced Pumpkin Spice Yogurt.

We have to admit, we really aren’t able to exclaim, “Wow, that sounds so good!” But FoodFacts.com also has to admit that in comparison to the majority of pumpkin-flavored products flooding our grocery stores, restaurants and fast food chains, this one is actually something you might consider eating.

Let’s take a look:

Calories:                130
Fat:                        3 grams
Sugar:                   12 grams

Not bad. Low in calories. Low in fat. And the sugar content is pretty much on par with other Greek yogurt products.

But what about the ingredients?

Lowfat Yogurt (Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Cream, Live and Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei), Evaporated Cane Juice, Water, Pumpkin Puree, Pectin, Spice, Natural Flavors, Locust Bean Gum, Lemon Juice Concentrate.

O.k., we don’t like the natural flavors. But that’s about all we see here that would get flagged in the FoodFacts.com Food Score system. And let’s not forget to mention that this yogurt contains real, actual pumpkin puree, unlike the majority of products currently available.

So, if you’ve just got to have a pumpkin-flavored something, you might actually consider the Chobani Pumpkin-Spice yogurt. While fall-flavored Greek yogurt might not seem as alluring as that pumpkin muffin or latte, it’s a much better choice overall. After all, it contains the real thing!

http://www.chobani.com/products/blended#pumpkin-spice

Panera Bread celebrates Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the Pink Ribbon Bagel

bagels[1]RightSideOctober is the month for pink ribbons and at FoodFacts.com we do want to celebrate that. In a relatively short span of time, through the efforts of medicine, research and women, breast cancer can actually be a curable disease for many. There’s still a long way to go and awareness certainly play a tremendous role in the advancements that have been made. We’re all working together on this. So Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a valuable time for everyone. And we’re happy to see so many people, companies and brands getting involved. We only wish that when they choose to become involved, they’re careful about their choices.

So for a limited time, you can “enjoy” the Pink Ribbon Bagel at Panera Bread. This is their acknowledgement of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And, while we’re happy that they participate, we’re not exactly sure that this bagel was the way to go.

The nutrition facts for the Panera Bread Pink Ribbon bagel are a bit different than other comparable items. Take a look:

Calories              370
Fat                      7 grams
Sodium              430 mg

While these numbers aren’t horrible, a regular cinnamon raisin bagel has similar nutrition facts — a bit lower in calories and definitely higher in fat. It’s the ingredients here that we should really pay attention to:

Unbleached enriched wheat flour (flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, cherry flavored chunk (sugar, palm kernel and palm oil, whole milk powder, cherry powder, natural flavor, soy lecithin [emulsifier], salt), cherry flavor infused cranberries (cranberries, sugar, cherry juice concentrate, citric acid, natural cherry flavor with other natural flavors, elderberry juice concentrate, sunflower oil), sweetened dried cherries (dried red tart cherries, sugar, rice flour, sunflower oil), bagel base (sugar, salt, malted barley flour, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, molasses powder [molasses, wheat starch], yeast, soybean oil, ascorbic acid, enzymes [wheat]), brown sugar, honey, vanilla flavor (water, propylene glycol, alcohol, artificial flavors, caramel color), yeast (yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid), palm oil shortening.

We’re not particularly thrilled with this. Multiple instances of natural flavors, propylene glycol, artificial flavors, caramel color doesn’t exactly add up to our idea of a an ode to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Maybe it’s just us, but we do think that any food introduction that’s meant to honor this important month would be better with a clean ingredient list … especially with the recent research regarding certain ingredients and cancers (not to mention nutrition and cancers). Ingredients aside, it IS important to mention that a portion of the proceeds from the sales of Pink Ribbon Bagels will go to breast cancer research. And, regardless of the ingredients, we ARE a big fan of that. We’re just going to donate to the cause, without eating the bagel. Sorry, Panera Bread.

https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/menu-categories/bagels-and-spreads.html#pink-ribbon-bagel

Snack spending outpaces spending on actual food here in America

junkfood on plateHere at FoodFacts.com we spend a lot of time talking about the nutritional value of food. We’re always stressing the health benefits of real, fresh foods and pointing out foods that are nutritionally vacant. Our mission is to educate consumers, encouraging nutritional awareness. New data coming out of Nielsen, however, points directly to the idea that not enough Americans are sufficiently cognizant of nutritional value.

Nielsen has revealed that Americans are spending more on snack foods – things like protein bars, chips and beef jerky, at the same time that our spending on groceries has remained almost flat.

While are overall grocery spending increased by only 1.8%, salty snack spending (chips, crackers and pretzels) increased by 4.9%, nutrition bar sales grew by 7.8%, meat snacks (like beef jerky) rose 11.2% and sales of Greek yogurt increased by 16.6%.

Nielsen polled the 490 Americans included in their research and found that these consumers said they “enjoyed” eating all the time. That could be referred to as “grazing.” The second most common reason given for eating (enjoyment was the first reason cited), these consumers said they ate to satisfy hunger between meals.

Our need to snack has even changed the way we view certain foods, said James Russo, a senior vice president of consumer insights at Nielsen. Take breakfast cereal. Instead of eating it just for breakfast, we now see items like Kix as more of a snack food. While sales of breakfast cereal are declining overall, an increasing number of us are eating Cheerios throughout the day. Forty-four percent of Americans said they ate cereal outside a meal in the past 30 days, compared to just 19 percent who said they ate a nutrition bar during that time period, according to Nielsen.

“One of the big stories here is the blurring of what is a snack and what is a meal,” Russo said.

And the number of snacks we eat at mealtimes is expected to grow by 5 percent over the next five years. That means that in 2018, Americans will be eating snacks as meals 86.4 billion times a year, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm.

NPD predicts most of that growth will come from healthier snacks, but that doesn’t mean we’re over chocolate and chips. Instead, because we’re snacking constantly, we want snacks to be available in both decadent and healthy forms. Pepsi’s recent patent for a granola bar with Pop Rocks is one food that combines these desires, but for the most part we’re looking to eat carrots and hummus around lunchtime and then grab some candy a few hours later.

Russo pointed to Americans’ contradictory feelings toward salt as an example of this dynamic. While the top snack in North America over the past 30 days was chips or crisps, the third-highest health priority for respondents was low salt/sodium, Nielsen found.

“We want indulgent snacks but we also want healthy options for a snack,” Russo said. “We’re increasingly using all these different food products to satisfy our hunger.”

So it would appear that our health perception of certain foods has helped us to identify them as actual food, instead of snacks. For instance, some people are grabbing a nutrition bar as a meal — not as a snack. And it also appears that while health and nutrition news and research is making an impression on us, that impression doesn’t seem to be strong enough to affect our spending and consumption. We know that lowering our sodium intake is important, but we’re still purchasing (and presumably consuming) salty snacks.

Someday, we are are hopeful that we’ll get a report that sales of fruit have risen more than the sale of nutrition bars. Or that sales of produce are outpacing the sales of Greek yogurt. And as far as the polling goes, we’d prefer hearing that folks are preparing an actual lunch meal than calling a snack a meal simply because the manufacturer has gone out of their way to shape their perception of a snack. Until these things become a reality, though, we’ll just continue stressing the significant nutritional differences between real foods and snacks. We might be at this for quite a while …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/02/snack-meal-spending_n_5913166.html

Under the Bun: Wendy’s Pulled Pork Cheeseburger … can you say overkill?

pulled-pork-cheeseburger-carls-jr-hardeesSometimes FoodFacts.com tries to imagine how fast food chains comes up with their new and “different” ideas. For instance, how did Taco Bell arrive at the Waffle Taco for their breakfast menu. It isn’t exactly a natural concept to use a waffle as you would a taco shell — and while we have to admit that it might get points for creativity, texturally we just don’t see a match there. That Waffle Taco, for us, also falls into the overkill category. Too much going on to be a hand-held breakfast. We do find that many of the new fast food introductions are just “too much” — and we think the length of the ingredient lists certainly substantiate our opinion.

Wendy’s newest introduction does appear to fall into the overkill category. The Pulled Pork Cheeseburger brings together elements that we just don’t think belong in a sandwich together. We can’t help but wonder who thought of this one. It’s sort of a reach.

Let’s go under the bun and find out what’s really in the Pulled Pork Cheeseburger. First you should know what you’ll find under that brioche bun — a stack of a cheeseburger, broccoli slaw and pulled pork. The nutrition facts here just can’t be good. Let’s take a look:

Calories                                 640
Fat                                         33 grams
Saturated Fat                       13 grams
Trans Fat                              1.5 grams
Cholesterol                           130 mg
Sodium 1                              260 mg

There’s just too much of everything going on in here and none of it’s good. The nutrition facts for this sandwich are what gives fast food a bad name.

Let’s not forget to detail the ingredient list:

Brioche Bun: Enriched Wheat Flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Water, Sugar, Yeast, Buttermilk Powder (whey solids, enzyme-modified butter, maltodextrin, salt, guar gum, annatto and turmeric [color]), Egg Yolks, Butter, Salt, Dough Conditioner (wheat flour, DATEM, contains 2% or less of: silicon dioxide [flow aid], soybean oil, enzymes [wheat], calcium sulfate, salt), Dry Malt, Calcium Propionate, Dough Conditioner (degermed yellow corn flour, turmeric and paprika [color], contains 2% or less of: natural flavor), Egg Wash (eggs, water). CONTAINS: WHEAT, EGG, MILK, 1/4 lb Hamburger Patty: Ground Beef. Seasoned with Salt, Cheddar Cheese Slice: Cultured Pasteurized Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color. CONTAINS: MILK. Broccoli Slaw: Broccoli, Carrots, Red cabbage, Broccoli Slaw Sauce (soybean oil, water, white wine vinegar, sugar, egg yolk, distilled vinegar, mustard seed, salt, white wine, onion [dehydrated], xanthan gum, spice, garlic [dehydrated], citric acid, tartaric acid. CONTAINS: EGG, Smoky BBQ Sauce: Water, Tomato Paste, Sugar, Distilled Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Modified Cornstarch, Chili Peppers, Natural Flavor Including Smoke Flavor, Caramel Color, Onion (dehydrated), Garlic (dehydrated), Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate (preservatives), Chipotle Peppers, Molasses, Spices Including Mustard Seed, Jalapeno Pepper (dehydrated), Tamarind, Soybean Oil. Pulled Pork: Pork, Water, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Sodium Phosphate.

That’s about 86 ingredients with more than a few sources of hidden MSG and six controversial ingredients. That is definitely what we consider overkill. While we know there will be an audience for the Wendy’s Pulled Pork Bacon Cheeseburger, we’ll be sitting this one out. Even before we got to the bad nutrition facts and ridiculously long ingredient list, we couldn’t figure out why we’d want to eat a cheeseburger, broccoli slaw and pulled pork piled inside the same bun. Maybe it’s just us …

https://www.wendys.com/en-us/nutrition-info

Fruits and vegetables linked to better mental health

2012-10-10-FruitsVeggiesEating your five a day has been proven to do amazing things for health. But when we think of that, our thoughts generally turn to improved heart health, reduced risk of obesity, diabetes and even increased longevity. This new information, however, points to benefits that probably never crossed our minds.

A previous study suggested that consuming five portions of fruits and vegetables a day is the optimum amount for lowering the risk of death from any cause, which contradicts another study that suggested we should be eating seven portions of fruit and veg a day.

The researchers from this latest study, led by Dr. Saverio Stranges of the University of Warwick Medical School in the UK, used data from the Health Survey for England, which included nearly 14,000 adults over the age of 16.
This survey collected detailed information on the mental and physical health of the participants, as well as their health-related behaviors, demographics and socio-economic characteristics.

In addition, the team assessed the participants’ mental well-being using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, putting the top 15% of participants in the “high mental well-being” group, the bottom 15% in the low group, and those between 16-84% in the middle group.

‘The higher the veg and fruit intake, the lower the chance of low well-being’
Overall, the researchers found that high and low mental well-being were typically associated with the participants’ fruit and vegetable intake.
In detail, 35.5% of participants with high mental well-being ate five or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day, compared with only 6.8% who consumed less than one portion.

Additionally, 31.4% of the individuals from the high mental well-being group ate three to four fruit and veg portions per day, and 28.4% ate one to two.
“The data suggest that [the] higher an individual’s fruit and vegetable intake, the lower the chance of their having low mental well-being,” says Dr. Stranges.

The researchers also considered other health-related behaviors – such as smoking, alcohol intake and obesity – and found that only smoking and fruit and vegetable intake were consistently associated with mental well-being.

Dr. Stranges explains:
“Along with smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption was the health-related behavior most consistently associated with both low and high mental well-being. These novel findings suggest that fruit and vegetable intake may play a potential role as a driver, not just of physical, but also of mental well-being in the general population.”

Alcohol intake and obesity were associated with low, but not high mental well-being, the researchers add.

According to the team, high mental well-being is more than simply the absence of symptoms or illness – it is the condition of feeling good and functioning well. They add that optimism, happiness, self-esteem, resilience and good relationships are also part of this mode of being.

According to co-author Prof. Sarah Stewart-Brown, mental illness “is hugely costly to both the individual and society, and mental well-being underpins many physical diseases, unhealthy lifestyles and social inequalities in health.”

She says enabling people to maintain good well-being is important from a research perspective.

“Our findings add to the mounting evidence that fruit and vegetable intake could be one such factor and mean that people are likely to enhance their mental well-being at the same time as preventing heart disease and cancer,” she adds.

When asked about whether the study accounted for physical activity, Dr. Stranges told Medical News Today that one of the limitations of the study was that such data “was not available in the Health Survey for England,” leaving room for further study.

What a great reason to strive to eat your five a day! FoodFacts.com believes this information gives us all a new perspective on fruit and vegetable consumption — and more great reasons to tell ourselves and all our loved ones (not just our kids) “Eat your vegetables, they’re good for you!”

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282972.php

Forget about dunking … Nesquik wants you to drink your milk and cookies

B1G1-Nesquik-Milk-CouponEvery day in millions of homes across America, kids come home from school to the snack they’ve been waiting for all day — a glass of milk with cookies that they will dunk into that glass. When the cookies are gone, most of those children will happily drink the milk that’s full of soaked cookie crumbs. It’s almost a tradition. Throw some Girl Scout Cookies in the mix, and you’ve got some pretty happy kids!

Here at FoodFacts.com, we’ve had our share of problems with Girl Scout Cookies. Most varieties contain ingredients that no one needs to consume — most especially kids. We know everyone has their guilty pleasures, but there really are better cookie choices out there.

So we were surprised to find that not only has Nesquik attempted to reinvent milk and cookies — but has decided to do that with two popular Girl Scout Cookie flavors. We’ll admit it, we didn’t expect these “innovations” to be acceptable even before we started investigating.

What did we find?

Caramel Coconut Milk is inspired by the Samoa Girl Scout Cookie. Unfortunately this particular Girl Scout Cookie is one of the line’s biggest ingredient offenders. The Nesquik Caramel Coconut Milk doesn’t offer much of an improvement over the cookie. And the nutrition facts certainly leave much to be desired.

Remember that there are “about two” servings in the Nesquik milk container. We’re going to list the facts from the label — and then the facts on the label doubled, just in case your child actually drinks (gasp) the whole container.

Single Serving                              Whole Container
Calories                                                        160                                                  320
Fat                                                                 2.5 grams                                       5 grams
Sugar                                                            24 grams                                        48 grams

6 teaspoons of sugar in half the container. 12 teaspoons of sugar in the whole container. We don’t know anyone — adult or child — that needs to consume 12 teaspoons of sugar in their milk.

Ingredients: Low Fat milk with Vitamin A Palmitate and Vitamin D3 added, Sugar, Less Than 2% of Natural and Artificial Flavors, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Calcium Carbonate, Cellulose Gel, Salt, Carrageenan, Cellulose Gum.

The Samoa cookie is a coconut cookie and does contain actual coconut. The milk contains natural and artificial flavor — and that’s where the coconut is coming from. The flavor concept doesn’t seem to be much of an innovation to begin with. Coconut milk with chocolate syrup and vanilla syrup would probably do the trick here and depending on your product choices, you could easily leave out the questionable ingredients featured in this product.

How about the Thin Mints flavored milk?

To be perfectly honest, we didn’t agree with the flavor choice. Minty milk didn’t ring any bells for anyone here. And if it did, we could mix this one up ourselves too. Peppermint oil and chocolate syrup would do the trick.

Rinse and repeat the nutrition facts from the Caramel Coconut milk for the Thin Mints milk. They’re exactly the same.

Disturbingly, the ingredient list for the Thin Mints milk is also EXACTLY THE SAME as the Caramel Coconut milk. So where there should be peppermint in the list somewhere, you’ll find natural and artificial flavors taking their place. Same recipe, different chemical concoctions mimicking the real flavors that define the product.

We’re hoping that the real milk and cookies tradition wins out over these poor excuses for the real thing. We’re fairly positive that even if the taste comes close, there’s something irreplaceable about leftover, soaked cookie crumbs settled on the bottom of a glass of fresh, cold milk. At least, we hope so!

https://www.nesquik.com/adults/products/nesquikreadytodrink/caramel-coconut.aspx#

Can Annie’s Homegrown survive General Mills’ ownership in tact?

general-mills-largeFoodFacts.com was quite surprised to hear the news that Annie’s Homegrown has been purchased and incorporated into the General Mills’ family of products. We were immediately reminded of Kashi and the Kellogg Company. While Kashi has been able to maintain some of its previous commitment to food quality, we do have to think about a long list of difficulties that have included lawsuits regarding unsubstantiated “natural” claims for many of its products. That wouldn’t have happened prior to its mainstream ownership. So what will happen to Annie’s Homegrown and can we anticipate the same sort of problems occurring with this much-loved brand?

Annie’s Homegrown specializes in good-for-your versions of guilty foods like Hamburger Helper. Now it has been bought by the company that actually makes Hamburger Helper. In mid-September, Annie’s became the sister of Betty Crocker and dozens of other non-natural brands that make up the food conglomerate General Mills.

Does this mean that Annie’s Cheeseburger Skillet meal, made from organic pasta and non-GMO ingredients, will soon become an unhealthy stew of trans fats, MSG, and the artificial flavors found in Hamburger Helper’s Cheeseburger Macaroni? Will future versions of Annie’s cute little cheddar bunny crackers contain Franken-ingredients like the de-germed yellow corn meal found in GM’s Chex Mix?

Probably not. GM may be the home of Lucky Charms and Totino’s Pizza Rolls, but it also owns the organic and natural brands Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and Larabar. Food experts say there’s no reason GM would pay millions of dollars for these trusted brands just to destroy them. Of course, GM could make subtle ingredient changes that would slowly de-healthify its natural and organic brands to save money.

But retailers believe that, so far, this hasn’t been the case. David Clark, COO of online grocer Door to Door Organics, says despite being owned by General Mills for 15 years, Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen products still meet Door to Door’s standards, which include having no trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, growth hormones, or artificial flavors or colors. He hopes the same will hold true for Annie’s.

We hope they’re right. Even we have to admit that the General Mills’ brand family DOES in fact include natural and organic brands. The problem with that, though, is that there are many consumers who think twice before picking up a Cascadian Farm organic product BECAUSE of its General Mills’ ownership. We know that there are countless families who depend on Annie’s products for their children. They choose Cheddar Bunnies instead of Goldfish, Cheeseburger Skillet Meal instead of Hamburger Helper, Mac and Cheese with real ingredients. Annie’s Homegrown plays an important role in the lives of nutritionally aware families. It’s a role we hope continues regardless of their ownership.

http://www.prevention.com/food/smart-shopping/will-general-mills-ruin-annies-homegrown