Nature Valley introduced the world’s first granola bar in 1975. Since then it’s become a “natural” food brand juggernaut and has expanded into all different forms and flavors. From promotions like the one on the box above to preserve parks to advertisements like the one below, Nature Valley has created an idyllic, natural world where things are “100% Natural, 100% Delicious.”
But as I scanned my local grocery store’s shelves for my “All Natural … Really?” series, Nature Valley caught my eye. After all, how could so many wonderful flavors be so natural and good for you? Unfortunately for consumers, after taking a closer look, I discovered Nature Valley looks more like a slippery slope than a pristine “All Natural” brand. Here’s what I found out.
Now the original part of Nature Valley appears to be pretty clean and is made with real ingredients. But with 12g of sugars, 6g of fat, 160mg of sodium, and several genetically modified ingredients (GM) Nature Valley isn’t as pure and good for you as one might think. In fact, there is just as much sugar in one serving of Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey granola bars as there is in a bowl of Fruit Loops, and Fruit Loops has even more fiber (3g).
But the story gets even worse. As you fork off into different varieties of Nature Valley’s bars and snacks, you find even more dirty little secrets. For example Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut granola bars contain high fructose corn syrup and high maltose corn syrup. They also use palm kernel oil, a frequent food additive that avoids the use of hydrogenated oils but is still a chemically processed saturated fat. Harvesting palm kernel oil is also a well-documented cause of substantial and irreversible environmental damage … hardly a pristine valley, huh? Other questionable ingredients include the addition of several colors that aren’t listed as artificial, but they sure don’t look very natural.
So how can Nature Valley do this? Isn’t it supposed to be “100% Natural, 100% Delicious”? Well first and foremost, “natural” means very little on any processed foods package. But to stretch the meaning even further, here’s where the processed food industry’s slight of hand comes in. Take a close look at the logo’s on the two boxes:
Yes, the truth is only a small part of Nature Valley is 100% Natural (and even that part of the valley is infested with genetically modified sugars, corn, and canola). The rest of the valley leverages the 100% Natural equity of the brand only to conveniently leave out the facts in the fine print. In my book that is a pretty sneaky move, but unfortunately totally legit and a frequent practice in the processed food industry.
So how can we be sure of what we are eating anymore? How do you navigate the world of food to eat as healthy as possible? What seemingly healthy or natural brands have you found really aren’t so good for you after all?
To read more articles from my series “All Natural … Really?” click here.