Defined as “conducive to bodily health; healthful; salubrious,” the word ‘wholesome’ counts “nourishing” and “nutritious” among its synonyms. It appears Big Food is blissfully ignorant to these facts, at least based on the horrific “kids’ food” concoctions they have branded as “wholesome”. Behold the worst offenders:
1. Post Golden Crisp:
“A wholesome, sweetened puffed wheat cereal.”
A 3/4-cup serving offers 3.5 teaspoons of added sugar and less than a gram of fiber. All its nutrients are fortified (the equivalent of eating a bag of Skittles and then popping a multivitamin), sugar is the first ingredient, and the carcinogenic ‘caramel color’ is present.
2. Post Marshmallow Pebbles
“Marshmallow Pebbles is a wholesome, sweetened rice cereal.”
Right. Nothing says “wholesome” like a 3/4- cup serving that delivers zero grams of fiber and as much sugar as three Oreo cookies. Don’t forget the four artificial dyes, hydrogenated coconut oil (unlike unrefined coconut oil, hydrogenated varieties are cardiovascular terrors), and caramel color.
For an overview of why food dyes should be avoided, please read this short piece I recently penned.
3. Kellogg’s Pop Tarts
According to this online advertisement, Kellogg’s considers its Pop-Tarts “made for wholesomeness” and points out “they are baked, not fried”.
They conveniently forgot to mention that most varieties contain trans fats, artificial dyes (the ‘confetti cake’ flavor packs in 6!), less than a gram of fiber and at least a tablespoon of added sugar. As is par for the course for these sorts of “foods”, the much-touted “vitamins and minerals” are merely tacked on during processing.
“Fun” fact: A single Cookies & Creme Pop-Tart gets 40 percent of its calories from sugar, and contains as much sodium as 28 potato chips.
4. Con-Agra Kid Cuisine Meals
“Be sure to heat up a warm, wholesome Kid Cuisine to celebrate!”
One look at the ingredient list for their “All-Star Chicken Breast Nugget” reveals not-so-wholesome ingredients, including:
- Soy protein concentrate (most likely genetically modified)
- Soybean oil (most likely genetically modified)
- Partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat)
- Artificial dyes (five of them, to be exact)
- Artificial flavor (petroleum-derived)
The “carnival corn dog” variety includes these “wholesome” gems:
- Degermed Yellow Corn Meal (corn that has had its fiber removed)
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Mechanically Separated Turkey (per the USDA, “a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue through a sieve”; go to 0:37 of this video to see it in action, complete with awkward narration and oddly peppy techno music.)
- Microcrystalline and Carboxymethyl Cellulose (AKA “wood pulp”, a cheap way to raise fiber levels)
- Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (trans fats)
- Caramel Color
- Artificial food dyes (five of them)
As with “natural” (usually reserved for adult-oriented products), “wholesome” is an absolutely meaningless term food companies love to employ on highly-procssed, minimally-nutrition products. Alas, a sprinkle of vitamins, minerals, or whole grains on otherwise unhealthy foods doesn’t make them “wholesome”, but “just a little less horrible”.