I’m really struggling with what I’m tasked to write about these days, because it often contradicts my ethics and beliefs. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I’ve had to compromise quite often while writing for one of my freelance clients. Because they’re my main source of income at the moment, I can’t refuse the jobs. The only saving grace (for me) is that my byline is not on the materials since it’s more or less marketing copy that I’m writing.
Today, I’m writing copy about the NuVal system, which I personally find to be absurd and a waste of research money when it comes to nutrition. The NuVal system scores food on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the score, the higher the nutrition. Although the system considers hundreds of nutrients in their calculation, they leave out one major ingredient: the consumer.
Grocery stores are jumping on board left and right and accepting the system with open arms. For the stores, the system will lead to a less educated consumer, who will in turn put more products into their carts with a passing glance of a number ranging from 1 to 100. Because of this, the consumer will be less likely to read nutrition labels, lists of ingredients, and fail to educate themselves on what they’re putting into their bodies.
Product manufacturers, on the other hand, are outraged because some of the numbers given to many of their products are so low that they’re worried sales will drop. In this case, I hope that happens since it’s mainly junk food and sugary cereals that are stamped with a low number. Even though this hits a majority of the junk food below the belt, it still leaves a good percentage of processed foods in the vague category of being healthy. The scoring system doesn’t take into account conventional vs. organic, and, as far as I understand, it doesn’t take into consideration preservatives that are called “natural” but are so heavily processed they’re anything but natural — I’m guessing this based on a score of 40 for a Kashi oatmeal cookie.
I’ll never know for sure though because the NuVal company will not reveal their exact formula or criteria for how they evaluate and score foods. And to me, keeping a secret like that is a terrible way to advance good nutrition; they’re still keeping people in the dark about what they’re consuming.
Sometimes I feel like a minority, spreading the word about eating whole, healthy foods and cooking from scratch. Am I the only one out there that skips the cereal aisle at the grocery store?