My friend and I stared at the rows upon rows of raspberries in Loblaws, trying to talk ourselves out of the guilt of buying the non-organic berries. The conventional raspberries were two boxes for $5.99, while the organic box of berries were $5.99 each. The mental math to do this transaction went something like this:
I can buy two for the same price. +1
The kids get will have extra servings of fruit. +2
The berries are sprayed with chemicals that could be eating away at our bodies. -5
The harm to our bodies from a few berries is negligible. +1 (and we will ultimately eat more fruit) +1
I will forget about the guilt once the box is in the recycling bin. +2
I am a bad mother. -10 (but this applies to every interaction and transaction)
So, the conventional berries went into the shopping cart and I continued shopping. But every parenting decision is laden with some kind of judgment and guilt, isn’t it? Therefore, I like it when a manufacturer makes the better choice for me, like President’s Choice has recently done.
Read more: Organic food: Reading between the labels>
Loblaw Companies Limited recently removed all artificial colours and flavours from their President’s Choice products. The decision was based on a pledge made two years ago, and it's taken this long to ensure that each of the more than 4,000 President’s Choice products sitting on store shelves are without additives.
Artificial flavours and colours have been linked to hyperactivity and food sensitivities in children. Concerned consumers have been demanding natural products over the years as they've become more knowledgeable about food. Even though I wrote a cookbook, and grew up in a food family, I still can’t always decide what is valuable to spend my money on, and what isn’t it. My small amount of knowledge just isn’t always enough when faced with the nonsensical nutrition labels and fuzzy government guidelines.
Read more: 5 food additives to avoid>
The labels on your favourite President’s Choice products may not look like much has changed, but a lot of research was done prior to the removal of the artificial additives. I actually know this to be true because Galen G. Weston (Executive Chairman and President of Loblaw Companies Limited, and many women's pretend boyfriend) let it slip while we were filming a President’s Choice commercial and swore us to secrecy.
The most difficult products to work with were allegedly the confectionary items and ice cream—the red and blue colours were very difficult to replace with natural ingredients. Ingredients like annatto are being used instead of the colour red, for example. Even though the products may have new—and more costly ingredients—the purchase price will remain the same for consumers.
I expect other companies will follow suit. Some food colouring is already banned in parts of Europe, and President’s Choice has pushed many manufacturers in North America to eradicate fake colouring and flavours. Of course, processed food such as candy-cane ice cream will never be considered a health item, but President’s Choice has stated that they felt it was the right thing to do overall—and it is. There were probably dyes and junk lurking in products that I didn’t even know about.
There may be one less thing to worry about while shopping now, but there are still many opportunities for parent guilt down every aisle. And next time I’m just going to splurge and buy the organic berries.
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