The problem with health food stores

Today my wife and I cooked pound cake but instead of equal parts sugar, flour, butter and eggs we substituted almond and hazelnut meal for the flour and stevia for the sugar. The recipe was from a book by Peter Reinhardt that contains gluten ad sugar free recipes. It might sound bizarre to want sugar-free cake but our current diet is heavily influenced by Gary Taubes’ book on Why We Get Fat – which lays the blame on carbs and sugars (not fats and /or total calories). This got me thinking about health food stores.

Many of these stores are no doubt profitable but what is their purpose? Health food stores send extremely mixed messages – the users can be looking for unusual cooking ingredients, be after weird and unproven alternative medicines, gluten-free, organic food, free-trade food, locavore food, body-building supplements, or peace, love and mung bean sprouts, just to name a few things.

I think the problem is that health food stores themselves haven’t defined what constitutes health, let alone health food. Essentially it could be anything that isn’t in the supermarket next door….although they are creeping in on the market.

I’d like to see heath food stores be more pro-active and evidence-based: let them define what they consider to be health and then sell stuff that fits the evidence and the vision rather than a bit of everything for everybody.

One comment

  1. uglyelissa

    I too find this dichotomy at health food stores. On the one hand, many products I like to purchase (bulk ingredients, environmentally friendly cleaning products, locally produced food) but on the other hand, products I think are a load of crap (homeopathic pet medication).

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