If you shop regularly at Kroger, you may have recently noticed some new products on store shelves. The clean packaging and circular green logo are part of the grocer’s new line of Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic products, which are reportedly free of 101 artificial ingredients and preservatives that “some customers have said they do not want in their foods,” a press release stated.
Available products include Simple Truth soy milk, regular milk, chicken, sodas and chips. The company has recently been running some pretty good sales on the products, no doubt in an effort to invite customers to try them. And despite a recent Stanford University study that asserted organic foods are no more nutritious than nonorganic foods, when I see organic labels, I am personally more tempted to buy those brands IF the price is doable.
Before we come back to the Stanford study, which we talked about on this blog and which has been debated since its publication, let’s look more closely at Simple Truth. The brand’s website lists the artificial items that have been cut from the ingredient lists, and these items include artificial colors and flavors, bleached flour, antibiotics, high-fructose corn syrup and a whole host of unappetizing, chemically words that start with prefixes such as ethyl- and methyl- and propyl- and benzo-. You can see this list for yourself here.
According to Kroger, “Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic brands will be rolled out in phases beginning this month with new food introductions, including cereals, frozen pizza, and vegetarian options, happening regularly. By January 2013, both brands will collectively expand to more than 40 product categories and appear in many aisles at Kroger’s Family of Stores.”
That Stanford University study found that overall, “when it comes to individual health, there isn’t much difference” between buying organic and non-organic. The study showed that pesticide levels from non-organic produce were “very small” and reported that “organic or not, the chances of bacterial contamination of food are the same.”
However, the same study found that organic foods contain a 30 percent lower risk of containing detectable levels of pesticides and that “when bacteria did lurk in chicken or pork, germs in the non-organic meats had a 33 percent higher risk of being resistant to multiple antibiotics.”
Commentary from other research groups and through media institutions such as The Washington Post and The Today Show since the study have argued that it was interpreted too simplistically and that it ignores some key reasons to keep buying organic. Nora Puillon, chef at the all-organic Restaurant Nora in Washington, said it is VERY important that organic foods contain fewer pesticides and that the study is “silent on perhaps the most important issue: that organic foods help sustain a healthy environment for ourselves and our children.”
“To me,” she continued, ” ‘healthy’ means that we aren’t spraying toxic chemicals on the food we eat; we aren’t dousing agricultural workers with those poisons; and we aren’t depleting the earth with chemicals. ‘Healthy’ means that we are nourishing the soil with compost; we’re keeping the water clean; we’re preserving the earth for future generations; and we are treating nature and our bodies with respect, not reckless disregard.”
Read Pouillon’s piece in its entirety here. Here is a piece from the Environmental Working Group, and here is a piece by a University of Missouri researcher who believes the study was flawed. Also, read this very interesting Q&A about organic foods from The New York Times.
Have you tried any of Kroger’s new Simple Truth or Simple Truth Organic products? Do you think you’ll buy those products?