>> Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I've gotten pretty good at picking brands that don't have HFCS in their products. With conventional brands (Nabisco, Kraft, etc.) it takes a lot of label reading. Some products are HFCS and trans-fat free, and some aren't. There is a whole subset of brands now that seem to go out of their way to make themselves look more shi-shi. It seems kind of an unwritten rule that these brands don't contain HFCS and usually don't contain hydrogenated oils. (They also generally cost more too, but that's not what this post is about.) Their products might not be healthy, but they're generally free of some of the more villified processed ingredients (like HFCS).
Sometimes, though, a brand surprises me. A brand that just has that look - that HFCS-free look - is Culinary Circle. Have you seen it in your store yet? It's all over our Albertsons here. The packaging and the upscale looking branding just screams no HFCS to me.
Guess what? I was so wrong! Culinary Circle looks upscale, but the ingredient lists tell a different story. Not all of their products contain HFCS, but some do. (Their garlic naan does not contain HFCS and is actually pretty good for a store bought naan.) And many (I'd say most, but I didn't look at very many of their products) have impressively long ingredient lists - though not impressive in a good way.
Culinary Circle is another Supervalu store brand that is marketing itself as "chef inspired cuisine." (Supervalu owns Albertsons as well as several other grocery store chains.) The Culinary Circle brand manager says that, "Culinary Circle brings families back to their own dining rooms with the quality and unique variety of food found on casual dining restaurant menus." Hmmm...their ingredient lists do not scream quality to me. (Don't bother looking for ingredient lists on their website. Nary an ingredient is listed.)
It's a nice idea, but in the end you're getting cheap meals made with cheap ingredients. I'm a little amazed that Supervalu could do such a good job with its Wild Harvest Organics - a reasonable priced organic line with good ingredients - and such a poor job with its "premium" Culinary Circle line of products.
So, let this be a warning. You can't judge a book by its cover, and you can't judge a food by its packaging. If you're serious about eating better foods, better flip your product over and at least give the ingredients a scan!