Jan 8, 2010

I've been reading various online posts that discuss the proposed benefits or not of Agave Nectar. Also the marketing of said nectar. I'm not going to link to the posts since, well you know how to Google, don't you Steve? Also, admittedly, I haven't trawled my way through all the research, articles and conflicting viewpoints that have arisen this week.

So, why mention this at all? I have a guilty pleasure when I view online articles. I love to scan the comments. It's like people watching on the boardwalk. Fascinating. Such diversity. One thing disturbed me in the comments on the Agave nectar posting. There was a trend toward bashing 'Natural Food' stores.

Now y'all know (that I'm from The South, right? South Wales that is!) that I don't consider Good For You Market to be a 'Health Food' or a 'Natural Food' store. Does that set us apart from a so called, "Health Food," or "Natural Food" store? No, we carry 'Health Food' or 'Natural Food' products, but above all we focus on good food and great ingredients, be they so called 'Health Food' or a Triple Cream Brie. I love my Quinoa as much as my Triple Cream Brie! Are conventional supermarkets charged with the moniker, "Health Food Store" if they carry products considered to be, "Health Food?" What's the cutoff point with product mix when one switches over to being called a, "Health Food Store?" What constitutes a, "Health Food?" Is a conventional cereal or milk considered a, "Health Food" if it carries a "Heart Healthy" label? Oooh, deep!

At Good For You Market, we do not 'prescribe' when we sell a product. Instead we focus on what is it? Is there any exploitation involved in producing it? Is it sythentically altered (chemicals - pesticides or test tubes)? Does it taste good? How do we use it? Can we get a fair price on it? What do we need to know about it, 'good' or 'bad?' Don't misunderstand the last question. We can't place a value judgement on conflicting information. We can tell you if it tastes good and how to use it! This is the reason I dislike the term, "Health Food." Nutritionally is Broccoli 'healthier' for us than a tablespoon of 'sugar?' Well, starches in vegetables break down to 'sugar.' Now we're all getting a little confused and lost! This is where we give up and pop open that pint of ice cream! How about Broccoli ice cream? Is that better? I'm getting a little Johnathan Swift in my analogy to make a point here. My point is get a second, third, fourth opinion from practioners when it comes to 'health' claims. Look at the mess we're all in over our understanding of fats in our diet. Help!

So, if you're a 'Food Market' why do you carry supplements? I covered this in an article I wrote for Coastal Sussex Weekly from last December. Here's an abbreviated version of it:


Basically we take the same approach as with our food sourcing: we do not carry 'test tube' synthetic products. Our products are whole foods based, including our supplements. If periodically we make a mistake, or consistent research has shown something to be dangerous, we drop the product.

So, that out of the way, you know what bothers me about the 'Natural Food' store bashing? It's not that I'm taking any of it personally. I get that the comments come from a general frustration over misleading claims, or perceptions of false marketing. We're all so conflicted - there's information overload in our modern lives and we just don't know what, or whom to believe anymore.

What bothers me is indiscriminate bashing, actually any kind of bashing! Instead seek out businesses that know what they're stocking and selling. Y'all know stocking a product is not the same thing as selling it, right Good For You staff? Mmm hmm... If you're making a claim for a product based on a health related concern, you'd better make sure you know what you're talking about.

Yes, we carry Agave Nectar, and no I'm not going to comment on the articles. I use Agave Nectar in dips and in baking. I use minimally refined sugar equally as much. I love the taste of Agave Nectar. I also like the challenge of figuring out how a recipe works with a liquid sweetener versus a crystallized sweetener.

I think much of our confusion comes from a basic misunderstanding over the application of the words sugar, sweetener, fructose and so on. Food Scientists, Nutrionists, and Dietitians - you're up! In the meantime I'll keep using Agave Nectar with the same philosophy I have for my Triple Cream Brie - moderation not denial. Hopefully we can all apply that to the facts, whatever they may highlight.

It strikes me that there's some other terms that we're all confused over, "Raw," "Refined," and, "Processed." Also, why is Good For You Market named so? For these things we'll have to wait for another column, I've got a Food Market to open!


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