Nutrifusion Responds to My Post on Girl Scout Cookies and “Nutritionism”

by Bettina Elias Siegel on January 24, 2013

Last week I shared a post regarding the new Girl Scout cookie, “Mango Cremes with Nutrifusion.” I used that cookie as a springboard to discuss my general concerns with “nutritionism” claims on packaged, processed foods and the way in which those claims can easily seduce less food-educated parents, or parents struggling with children who spurn fruits and vegetables, into thinking that consuming the processed food is the equivalent of consuming whole foods.

Soon after the post was published, I was contacted by William Grand, founder and president of Nutrifusion, the company which makes the nutritional additive in the Mango Creme cookie.  He asked if he could share his views in this forum and I agreed.  He also took issue with a statement in the original post in which I speculated that his powder “comes straight from a lab;”  Mr. Grand says it comes from “processing facility,” not a lab, and that in creating it the company only “removes the moisture from the fruits and vegetables while preserving the micronutrients,” a process more fully outlined here.  I have gone back to the original post and changed “lab” to “processing facility.”

Here is Mr. Grand’s rebuttal to my post:

What we have done to food, even in the raw state, is criminal.

Where we agree:

  1. “… getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables can be a real and constant challenge.”
    1. Our diets are very deficient in fresh fruits and vegetables and the critical phytonutrients needed for growing children.
    2. Our fruit and vegetable powder is, in a small way, a means to try to help the consumer achieve natural, plant derive nutrition that they are not getting from their regular diet.
    3. We need to alter our “addiction” to over-processed and generally unhealthy foods.
    4. As we all work towards improving our poor eating habits, NutriFusion can supply the important and necessary micronutrients NOW [from fresh fruits and vegetables] in most food products – yes, even processed foods. This can be healthier yogurt, beverages, pastas, or even a cookie.
    5. NutriFusion is beneficial for the consumer’s immediate [and long-term health].
  1. “… once children have experienced the pleasures of highly processed foods, even in relatively small quantities, I  believe those experiences make it that much harder for them to accept the “imperfect” tastes and textures of fresh produce …”
    1. We do indeed show addictive behavior to processed foods, wheat, sugar, etc.
    2. Processed foods are ingrained in the food system worldwide with its pending health crisis.
    3. Unhealthy eating, without sufficient phytonutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables, impacts a child’s intellectual and physical development for a lifetime.
  • … You can easily see how a less food-savvy parent might conclude that feeding a child Mango Crèmes is actually a net positive, the same as offering fruit,  …”.

(a)   A cookie is a cookie with all its processed flour, fats, sugar, and artificial flavors.

(b)   However, children, parents, and adults do indulge in snack foods. They are what they are – a treat. We cannot hide from this!

  1. Our thinking diverges slightly here.

i.     We know we do not get enough fruits and vegetables.

ii.     There is no easy quick method to change the consumer’s bad eating habits.

iii.     People will still continue to eat cookies, crackers, chips, and other snack foods.

iv.     Consequently, adding our fruit and vegetable NutriFusion powder in snack foods can be a positive step to at least help people achieve some better nutrition.

v.     Our product can help the health of people NOW; including those who have bad eating habits with no intentions of changing].

  1. “…society’s overly simplistic way of viewing food’s value based solely on individual nutrients.”
    1. Spot on! Our bodies need the complexity of food state nutrition! Synthetics cannot do this.
    2. DW Cavanaugh, MD of Cornell University: “There is only one major disease, and that is malnutrition.” Malnutrition of the affluent is the natural result of the foods of commerce. [Processed Foods].
    3. c.     Vitamins are not individual molecular compounds. Vitamins are biological complexes. Vitamin activity only takes place when all conditions are met, and when all co-factors and components of the entire vitamin complex are present and working together. Vitamins cannot be isolated from their complexes and still perform their specific life functions within the cells.

When isolated into artificial commercial forms, like ascorbic acid, these purified synthetics act as drugs in the body. They are no longer vitamins, and to call them such is inaccurate.”

Where we do not agree:

  1. “Despite the fact that this powder presumably comes straight from a lab, … ..”
    1. NutriFusion does NOT come from a lab.
    2. Our product is 100% American grown, first grade, fresh fruits and vegetables.
    3. There are NO chemicals or excipients in the product.
    4. NutriFusion uses non-GMO produce from US farms.
    5. We only stabilize the vitamins and phytonutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables.
    6. Our product is supported by independent third-party lab analysis.
    7. See: http://www.nutrifusion.com/production.html. This link will explain the production process from receipt of fruits and vegetables to finished product.
    8. We only remove the moisture from the fruits and vegetables while preserving the micronutrients.
  1. The lawyers!
    1. Mislabeled and misrepresented food products are common.
    2. “God bless the class-action lawyers”!  They are protecting the consumer from wild claims and misrepresentations on our food shelves and forcing many unethical or marginal food companies to clean up their claims (while getting rich). This covers many large consumer package goods companies and products such as General Mills, Kellogg, Dannon, Kashi, Nutella, etc.

So, How Do The Girl Scouts Fit Into All This Complexity?

  1. Is the glass half empty or half full?
  2. The Girl Scouts, in a very small way, are helping children with their nutritional needs. Of course, cookies are a snack but at least it is healthier.
  3. Today’s children need the nutrients that are so deficient in our diets! Remember, only 14% of children get sufficient fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
  4. Health first! But continue to correct society’s bad eating habits!
  5. Given the depth of knowledge that we have on the food industry, the deficiencies of the food industry, our collective poor nutrition and diets, the cumulated effect of our poor nutrition as we age, and our desire [corporate and personal] to do the right thing, we feel the Girl Scouts are contributing to help us to a healthier state.

* * *

If you’d like to comment on Mr. Grand’s post, you may want to do it here rather than The Lunch Tray’s Facebook page so he can more easily see your responses and reply to them. 

 

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Amateur Mommy January 24, 2013 at 9:05 am

It’s still what it is– a cookie. I wish these companies would stop trying to ‘healthify’ what is not healthy. If you are going to eat a cookie, then eat a cookie! Otherwise, encourage your kids to eat their fruits and vegetables. This seems like just more sneaky advertising to me.

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Nina January 24, 2013 at 9:09 am

Despite the treatise, I still think pretending cookies are healthy is a bad road to go down. Parents can and should take responsibility to minimize junk food as much as possible. Making the junk food appear to be more healthy (or making it actually marginally better for you somehow) is not the answer. In fact, it makes the job harder for parents who might be trying to buy and serve healthier foods because oh look Jimmy, THESE cookies are ok but not these other ones. A child isn’t going to understand that and will just learn “cookies are fine to eat.” But they’re not.

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JT January 24, 2013 at 9:26 am

I disagree wholeheartedly. All Nutrifusion is doing is providing kids/parents with a way they can continue to eat unhealthy foods while believing that what they are eating is good for them. Sorry, Nutrifusion, any “good” nutrients in your product are completely useless to any body when put inside crap foods. The body will use up more precious nutrients trying to breakdown and process the junk than you have put in. The sugar and white processed flour alone while put enough stress on the body to cancel out your so called nutrition. Peddle your “nutrition” to Booster Juice (although their smoothies can be just as bad, at least there is SOME produce in them) and you may get a different opinion from me. Better yet, since you are so concerned with kids getting enough fruits and vegetables, make an education program about changing the way we look at food. Oh, but that might not make much business sense……can’t wait to see what other junk foods end up with Nutrifusion inside them, chips, chocolate bars oh oh oh I know, probably pop.

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Laura J January 24, 2013 at 10:08 am

1.Fruit is a snack; a cookie is not a snack, it is a treat.
1.I think many people will see this information and believe that they can eat one of these cookies and get the same health benefits as eating fruit.
2. That will lower the bar on how many serving of actual fruits and vegetables people believe tehy should eat.
i. Are there informational labels on these cookies informing them that a cookie does not nutritionally replace eating actual fruits andvegetables?

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Casey January 24, 2013 at 11:21 am

The argument that this is a good thing because children, parents, and adults do indulge in snack foods reminds me of tobacco companies promoting low tar cigarettes. I think when we look at the evidence on adding Nutrifusion to snack foods in a few years we will see a similar result as with low tar cigarettes and smoking: national scientific experts conclude that evidence does not indicate a benefit to public health from changes in cigarette design and manufacturing over the last 50 years.

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Krystyna81 January 24, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Fruits and vegetables come perfectly packaged from nature – with the right amount of fiber and taste. It does take some children a while to get to “like” fruits and vegetables. Don’t extend that period of time by pretending a cookie can fill in the gap.

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Gina Rau January 24, 2013 at 10:36 pm

I still say: let a cookie be a cookie. Nothing more, nothing less.

When it’s time for a treat, let’s have treats and not worry about nutritional value. We have to stop labeling overly processed foods as “better for you” because nutrition was added back in during the processing. This does nothing but confuse consumers and typically hides the facts.

And what message do we send kids: you don’t need to eat a healthy diet because you just eat a few magical cookies and you’ve filled your nutrition requirement? How is that teaching children about healthy choices? How much sugar and carbs (and whatever else) are in those cookies?

If these cookies are sold for the same price as others, I also have to wonder where short cuts were taken in the quality of ingredients to make up for the additional price of these additives.

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Emma January 25, 2013 at 11:25 am

Tch, was going to weigh in but I see your astute readers have already said what I planned to say! I have frequently bought Girl Scout cookies in the past (and sold a few myself), but actually my primary concern now is the palm oil and deforestation rather than health issues. (Well, I guess that’s planetary health….)

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Augusta Arwood January 26, 2013 at 9:26 am

This company has clearly stated that no matter what it’s still a cookie. I think this world has gotten to the blame everyone else and not take responsibility for their own choices. It doesn’t matter what product is fortified with anyone with the slightest amount of common sense knows your children can not get their complete nutrition from cookies. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children healthy habits not a company or an organization.

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Martha January 28, 2013 at 6:37 am

We parents have a responsibility to get our kids to eat their fruits and veggies. It really isn’t that difficult, but we must start the habit at a young age and model the behavior. If starting later (after the bad habit of not eating them is formed), it will take persistence. “Fruit and veggies will be for snack today. If you aren’t hungry enough to eat them, there will be more offered at dinner. If you aren’t hungry enough to finish what is provided at dinner, there will be some fruit offered at breakfast.” And it goes on and on until the kids decide it is worth just eating the F&V to fill the hole in the stomach. It’s a worthy goal!

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mommm!!!! February 8, 2013 at 11:03 am

I think that Nutrifusion had or has good intentions. I do. There are a multitude of applications for this powder in third world countries where there is literally NO food. For example, there is a company that makes these peanut butter type packets enriched with, I’m sure, something like what Nutrifusion makes for starving children.

However. Girl Scouts? Cookies? That’s a stretch. And I’m dismayed that such a resource that could be used in places that are in dire need of such a product like Nutrifusion, are instead putting their product in American junk foods in a ploy to bring more health minded consumers into the cookie buying consumer fold or to make the cookie consumer somehow feel better about a heavily processed cookie that is suddenly finding itself in the light of bad press over it’s highly questionable ingredients. (was that a run on sentence?)

And from what people are saying, the offensive health washed cookie doesn’t even taste good, which, I might add, makes the case for the argument that I see and hear so often that good for you food tastes bad. So, it’s actually managed to produce a defeatist product. Why is that a good thing again?

And I’m not trying to be harsh….but a word on picky eaters that aren’t actually allergic to the foods they resist eating. If a kid is hungry enough, they’ll eat it.

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