Trendy food-makers, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed popping up in unprecedented numbers and diversity recently, have two goals: 1) relieve you of your hard-earned funds, and 2) make decent-tasting, more healthful foods. And, sadly, often in that order. But fret not, dear readers, for this handy little primer may help you save those dollars we so torturously toil for in the dark, dreary zinc mines deep below ground.
One quick way to (potentially) tell if a trendy food is trying to justify its inflated price tag is to check the quantity, variety, and relevance of the labels on its façade. If it’s decorated like a five-star, war crime-acquitted general’s lapel, you may be at risk.
Some of these don’t much mean anything, either overall or in context. Like non-GMO? Literally, most modern fruits and vegetables were the product of GMOs, and have been since before any of those words existed. And gluten-free? Gluten is a protein that forms when flour is mixed with water, then kneaded. So, for pretty much every non-bread product, that label is on there for visual padding (you’re paying for it).
But trendy food-makers also like to make you think their snack foods, especially chips and crackers, are less fattening than their run-of-the-mill, blue-collar competitors. But there’s nothing inherently unhealthy about potatoes. Or potato chips if you limit yourself. Or even if you don’t: devouring an entire bag of Lay’s only yields about 1,300 calories. That’s well below the daily recommended intake, meaning you could have a sensible dinner and end the day in a caloric deficit.