Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The trouble with Granola Bars

While shopping the other day at the health food store, my son sneaked a box of granola bars by Cascadian Farm into the shopping cart. He did it right before checkout - and of course I just let it go and the granola bars made their way into our house. And then it made me think - had it been a box of chocolate chip cookies, chances are I would not have given in so easily and he probably would have known better than to try.
So, what is the difference between a granola bar and a cookie, really? The truth - absolutely nothing. It is just a matter of perception. Granola bar - good. Cookie - bad. Basically, the whole thing boils down to a PR problem for cookies.

If we look closely at said Cascadian Farm Organic Chewy Granola Bars -we see that the first, third, seventh, eighth, ninth, eleventh and fourteenth ingredient of the eighteen ingredients listed, is sugar in some form. Maltodextrin, rice syrup, tapioca syrup, malt extract and my personal favorite “naturally milled sugar”. As opposed to unnaturally milled sugar? I guess “natural” just makes anything sound better. At this point it might be interesting to note that Cascadian Farms is owned by “drum roll please” General Mills - the brains behind such delightful products as “Cinnamon Toast Crunch”, “Lucky Charms” and “Trix”, all of which are also sold as bars of some kind or other. I rest my case.
So our delightful cookie, moonlighting as a granola bar, has 12 grams of sugar if we take into consideration, that the whole bar weighs 35 grams, we just managed to eat something that was 34 % pure sugar - naturally milled, or not. 34% sugar may not be so bad if you know you are eating a dessert, but a granola bar is supposed to be a snack or an in between meal, that fuels us until the next meal comes along. The terms granola bar and energy bar seem to be almost interchangeable. Energy bars are supposed to give you, well energy and endurance, right, and they are good for you, right? Well, next time I watch the New York City marathon I’ll try to hand some “granola bars” to the runners - let’s see maybe I get arrested for trying to sabotage the race…..


dushka said...

This is great,a lot of information.This must be fun to create and do.And I never bought any granola bar for myself.Sometimes at work somebody will share one with me and I can't understand why does it have to be so sweet.I would eat a little piece and that's it.
By the way,I bought Sanpellegrino Limonata in Gadaleto's fish market.
I am enjoying it very much on these hot days.See ya

Linda said...

You're right - I've eaten several granola bars that are as sweet & gooey as candy. Thanks for the heads-up! And you also made an important point about Cascadian Farms being owned by General Mills. Many huge food corporations have a health line now. So it's good for consumers to do a little research (sometimes it's as easy as reading the fine print on the boxes & labels) especially if they're trying to get away from buying in to the corporations in favor of smaller or organic companies. Thanks again for passing on your great knowledge!