For anyone doubting the nutritional benefits of processed food, scientists are here to redeem them.---
Tony the Tiger is hopping with Snap! Crackle! Pop! joy, thanks to a recently unleashed food labeling program known as Smart Choices. This program seeks to help people avoid reading things like ingredient labels, which can be so cumbersome when burdened by dozens of words that are impossible to pronounce, by slapping a prominent green check mark on the front of the food box.
Ideally, this program wants to help people make smart choices about what to eat by encouraging meals with less calories, sugar and fat. And to their credit, they do stress the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. However, most of those food items will not be honored with a green check mark.
The key to this is the word "box," since the program is actually funded, through the appropriately named American Society for Nutrition, by food giants like ConAgra, General Mills, and Tyson. In other words, if it's made in a factory, it can qualify as a Smart Choice. But if it's planted and harvested and sold by humans without packaging, then it is not a Smart Choice.
The absurdity doesn't end there, however. Within their Smart Choices program, they have created different standards for different foods, even when they are used for the same purpose. The most prominent example is breakfast cereals, which had standards designed so pretty much every cereal made by participating companies qualified. Among the qualifying cereals: Cocoa Krispies, Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, and Lucky Charms.
Sadly, if you want to be a Smart Choice eater, you will have to eat those breakfast cereals dry since there are zero Smart Choice certified dairy (and dairy substitutes) products. Oh well, I never liked the oil sludge that mixing Cocoa Krispies and milk created.