Food Manufacturers Go Healthy: NOT!

Vege Mac & CheeseIn a marketing attempt to lure consumers to their products, food manufacturers are using an old concept towards bigger profits. This old “new” idea is to hide healthy food in their nutrient poor, manufactured products. This may fool some, but not us! We already stay away from their products. Here’s what they are trying to do.

Kraft Foods, Inc. is adding freeze dried cauliflower to their Macaroni & Cheese. They apparently freeze dry the cauliflower and then pulverize it and use that powder to replace some of the refined flour in the pasta. This allows them to claim that every cup of the product contains one half cup of vegetable.

Why cauliflower? Don’t they know that cauliflower (along with other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage) are goitrogens? These vegetables can harm the thyroid gland when eaten raw or even lightly cooked.

Speaking of cooking, correct me if I’m wrong, but I suspect that they do not cook the cauliflower before they freeze dry it. Uncooked crucifers are not only goitrogens, but they are also harder to digest when raw. Additionally, the process of freeze drying may add some unwanted trace chemicals and it also reduces the nutrients available so that by the time it reaches the pasta, the cauliflower is cadaverous.

Instead of adding nutrients, the raw cauliflower actually works as an anti nutrient, having a negative impact on the body.

But no worries! Consumers are rushing to buy the “healthier” product because kids and families will actually eat it and mom can feel happy that they are getting a portion of vegetables.

The misinformation that the USDA and food companies market to consumers is frightening.

Harry Balzer, who tracks Americans’ eating patterns for The NPD Group, a market research firm, said “…parents are making genuine attempts to get healthier foods into their kids.” The problem is that what most people think of as healthy (due to warped USDA guidelines), turns out to be nutrient poor. And foods that are shunned turn out to be healthy.

For instance, take butter. It has been given a bad rap for years. But it actually is incredibly healthy, especially when it comes from healthy grassfed cows. It  provides loads of vitamin A and D, and lots of healthy saturated fats and CLA.

How about cooking vegetables appropriately and sauteing them in butter and extra virgin olive oil with a little sea salt and garlic. Try that on your kids and watch those picky eaters chow down. When vegetables taste good, (butter and olive oil certainly helps towards that) kids will eat them.

The minerals in the vegetables will only be absorbed in the presence of saturated fats so the butter helps that as well. That is the way vegetables have been eaten for millennium and for these good reasons.

Any time a food is taken from it’s natural state and processed, nutrients are lost and undesirable elements may be added. New packaged food products are never based on nutritional content. Bringing a product to market is based on consumer acceptance to taste, texture and price. These companies are motivated by profits without any regard for the health consequences of eating foods that are manufactured in a lab. Science and government agencies follow along for the ride.

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This post is linked to: Real Food Wednesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Creative Juice Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Frugal Follies, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Food Trip Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Fun With Food Friday, Friday Food, Fight Back Friday, My Meatless Monday, Melt in Mouth Monday, Meatless Monday, Mangia Monday, Sugar-Free Sunday, Monday Mania, Mouthwatering Monday, Tuesday at the Table, Delectable Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday Tasty Tidbits, Traditional Tuesday


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Leave a Comment

  • Hannah K. July 13, 2011, 8:31 am

    Bravo Jill! This is a great article. I had no idea this type of “Mac ‘n Cheese” was out there. It blows my mind sometimes what the food manufactures do.

    But I have to wonder, does the Mac ‘n Cheese smell like cauliflower? And if not, why not?

    • Jill July 13, 2011, 9:27 am

      Hi Hannah,
      Apparently there are lots of different “flavors” of Mac & Cheese. I think they are disgusting. I never even ate the “real” version using real pasta and real cheese — just never liked it even back when I was eating a lot of carbs. But this boxed product is truly terrible. But worse, they are trying to market it as “healthy” and people believe them!

      I’m sure they found a way to take the cauliflower smell away — probably in the freeze drying.

  • Karen Bannan July 13, 2011, 1:51 pm

    And I wonder if they got rid of any of the artificial colors and flavors? I’m thinking not. (You’ve seen the reports that the ingredients of version of the product are very different here in the States versus in the U.K., right?)

  • Danielle @ Analytical Mom July 14, 2011, 10:00 am

    Not that I think the new product is a good idea or anything, but when you boil the pasta, wouldn’t that take care of the goitrogenic effect of the cauliflower? Who knows what would happen to it since it’s been freeze-dried, though! I’m impressed that they claim to have a half cup of vegetable per cup of product! That must be some very compressed cauliflower! Thanks for this kind of entertaining (in a horrible way) post. 🙂

  • Jennifer July 14, 2011, 1:21 pm

    I think that when the pasta is boiled, the goitrogenic effect of the cauliflower will be neutralized. I do agree with you, there is no real way to make kraft mac-n-cheese “healthy”, but I think it is good that they are trying.

  • nicolette @ momnivores dilemma July 14, 2011, 3:40 pm

    Again. I am addicted to your blog. You are so spot on with your views on nutrition.

    I do have a question for you regarding veggies. In light of what you mentioned about the cruciferous veggie’s effect on thyroid function, what are your thoughts on veggies like kale and spinach that are incredibly high in oxalates? I know some kids {and adults} for the matter have difficulty with digestion of those as well.

    What are the safest veggies to consume?

    Thanks for linking to Creative Juice!

    • Jill July 14, 2011, 4:23 pm

      Hi Nicolette,
      Oxalates can be a problem for certain individuals. I would suggest testing through an alternative practitioner before making that assessment. Sometimes just eliminating high oxalate foods can tell you if there is a problem with it by looking at symptoms.

      For some, oxalates is part of the picture, for others it does not affect them. I would not want to have to avoid them if it is not necessary, because some of the high oxalate foods are also very nutritious.

      Hope that helps!

  • Miz Helen July 16, 2011, 1:16 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you next week. Have a great week end!
    Miz Helen

  • Melissa @ Dyno-mom July 18, 2011, 5:43 pm

    I think that people want to wallow in processed food but justify it as a healthful processed food. They don’t have to feel badly or be judged for poor food choices if it is whole grain or vegetarian or organic even if it is full of MSG, white flour or artificial ingredients.

    • Jill July 18, 2011, 6:50 pm

      HI Melissa,
      So true. Sad, but true. The Marketers hide the other really bad ingredients by emphasizing what they think will attract consumers.

  • peg July 26, 2011, 10:11 am

    Just found your blog! When I read your story, I immediately thought of this story I read/watched at “fake blueberries” in cereals, muffins, etc…. even though the packaging implies that they are real. Disgusting!!!

    • Jill July 26, 2011, 3:01 pm

      Hi Peg,
      Isn’t it though? they are allowed to get away with so much.