10 foods I wish would disappear in 2017

…. but probably won’t.

I’ve got another list for the New Year: Foods I Wish Would Go Away in 2017 (But Probably Won’t). In fact definitely won’t. Because obviously someone is buying this garbage stuff.  Oh well.

1. Pop Tarts
Originally conceived as a handy toaster pastry for quick breakfasts, Pop Tarts have taken on a life of their own. I guess people still eat them at breakfast. Now that Pop Tarts come in Latte flavor, why not? Nutritionally they’re basically processed junk food. But someone seems to be buying them.  The store display keeps expanding, and the recent reboot of the Pop Tart-eating Gilmore Girls series may inspire new fans.

2. Sports drinks
Sports drinks aren’t just for actual athletes anymore. They’re the beverage of choice for wannabe athletes everywhere. Overweight couch potatoes think sports drinks make them athletic.  Parents think sports drinks are a “healthier” choice for kids than soda pop.  All wrong.  In fact even athletes don’t really need manufactured sports drinks.  You can hydrate with water and replace electrolytes with actual food.

3. Gluten-free
OK I know there are people with real celiac disease who appreciate gluten-free versions of foods like pasta and bread. But do we need little “Gluten Free!” tags on corn oil? Broccoli? Canned fruit? This kind of ridiculousness is evident at one of my local grocery stores, a major national chain. What exactly is the point of this? People with real celiac, diagnosed by a real doctor using evidence-based tests, already know all about gluten sources (foods made with wheat, period). They don’t need little tags on the olive oil or raisins. All this does is spread the false narrative about gluten, that it’s some kind of poisonous additive or contaminant, or that avoiding it makes you healthier for some reason.

4. Fake “wheat” bread
All bread is made with wheat (except gluten-free bread), so calling something “wheat” bread is redundant. Calling it “wheat” bread to fool shoppers into thinking it’s “whole wheat” bread is another thing.

5. Organic junk food.
Organic doesn’t make it less junky, just more expensive. But it sure is a great marketing tool.

6. “Energy” foods.
Any food with calories has energy. Adding caffeine doesn’t add energy, it adds a stimulant. Not the same thing.  You don’t need special “energy” foods to keep you going, just real food.

7. Coconut
Don’t get me wrong, coconut can be great: flaked coconut on cakes or in granola, coconut milk in a Thai curry sauce. But coconut fat and coconut “flour” and coconut water are being touted as magical health foods, which they are not. As with gluten-free junk food, it just goes to show you that tying food marketing messages to bogus health claims is a winning strategy.

8. “Yogurt” coating.
That sugary white frosting on dried fruit, nuts, pretzels and cereal bits is absolutely NOT yogurt. It sugar and fat.

9. Low Fat or “lite” salad dressings.
Aside from the fact that low fat hasn’t helped the obesity and disease epidemic one bit, “lite” salad dressings are pretty awful. Sugary sweet gloppy concoctions designed to drown out the flavor and crunch of your fresh vegetables.  What an insult to the vegetables!  Salad dressing should complement the vegetables.  If it adds a health boost, so much the better.  The best bet: a light drizzle of olive or canola oil, a splash of vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  You’ll have a fresh-tasting and satisfying salad.

  10. Coffee Creamers.
Gah! This stuff is like the kudzu of the grocery store. It just keeps spreading, taking on new disgusting flavors and bigger and bigger bottles. Coffee creamer has to one of the worst possible examples of food chemistry run amok.

Looking over this list there’s a clear theme: I detest industrial manufactured processed phood (Pop Tarts, lite salad dressing, coffee creamer, “energy” food) and I really detest sleazy marketing schemes based on fake health beliefs (gluten-free, coconut, “wheat” bread).  Both of which unfortunately seem to define our current food supply.  People claim to be eating healthy diets, but a quick survey of the grocery store shows that they’re buying junk food.  Or maybe there’s a widespread belief that healthy eating means buying “lite” salad dressing, “organic” gluten-free chips or sports drinks.  Which gives permission to reward yourself by putting Bailey’s Mudslide coffee creamer in your coffee.

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