Friday, July 05, 2013

gluten free and organic: buyer beware

Thanks to those sneaky marketing people, feeding your family well can be tricky work. 'Gluten free' and 'organic' have become buzzwords to sell products, as much as they are also terms to describe food. Unfortunately if you don't read the fine print on every package you buy and instead rely on buying products labelled 'gluten free' or 'organic' because you have been led to believe they are healthier then you could be heading for trouble.

My darling husband Pete has fallen for this marketing tactic a number of times. It began with the organic cornflakes he bought for our boys. Pete was disappointed when I pointed out to him that they contained two forms of sugar and a high salt content. Actually disappointed is an understatement he was really annoyed feeling like he had been misled.

Another example was when I was out with a friend and she offered River and Sol sweet biscuits and while handing them to the boys my friend looked at me saying "is that ok? they're organic" as if somehow the organic part made them better for them than if they were a non-organic sweet biscuit. And yes I prefer all our food to be organic, even the treats but just because something is organic does not make it an everyday food or a healthy option.

The ingredients in macro brand gluten free choc chip shortbread include sugar in four different froms and a mysterious ingredient 'natural flavour'. Processed food is processed food, sure the ingredients in organic processed food are better quality than conventional and free from artificial colours and flavours but they can still be high in sugar and salt so keep this in mind.

Pete's latest gluten free purchase was Coles brand gluten free pancakes. Normally we buy Orgran buckwheat pancake mix that is also gluten free but Pete saw the gluten free label on the Coles ones and thought he'd give them a go for $2.50. Unlike the buckwheat ones, this packet contained sugar, skim milk powder and thickener.

So, if you are buying processed food even if it is organic or gluten free read the fine print.

If you have some favorite organic or gluten free brands that you'd like to share please do in the comments.


  1. Currently navigating the gluten-free & dairy-free world myself...I have to say, the first is easy as the GF range is massive - but on the whole I find what they should say is 'Gluten Free WITH ADDED SUGAR". It is like everyone feels they need to add a truckload of sugar to make up for the lack of gluten! I am finding it much easier to adapt normal recipes using gluten free flours (my fave mix is 2/3 brown rice with 1/3 buckwheat flour at the moment) and either butter or a dairy-free spread like nutlex - oddly we can stomach butter but no other dairy (yay for fat!). I find it quicker to do this than navigate the ingredient lists on these products - too many things I've never heard of. It is so much cheaper too - I need to save my dollars for the $8 loaves of good GF bread ;)

    1. I love this tip Audrey about the gluten free flour you are using. Thank you for sharing! and good luck with finding your way with this x

  2. It's infuriating and so confusing at times. I just try to avoid anything from the supermarket other than the staples. Once I have this baby (5 weeks to go!) and get through the fog, I am looking at joining the local co-op so I can avoid the supermarket completely. We already get fruit and veg from the market, but the supermarket is so convenient as we get it delivered seeing as we live rurally and I hate wasting the weekend fighting the hoards!

    I don't think my comment makes much sense, so let me just add, have a great weekend! Luna. :)

    1. YOur comment makes perfect sense Luna :) you are though excused from making sense because you have 'pregnant brain' I agree that avoiding things in packets is the way to go but sometimes when we are tempted or for those just starting out on reducing processed packaged foods it is good to know that these products are not always what they are cracked up to be. Very best wishes to you for the rest of your pregnancy and blessings on a beautiful birth x

  3. yes, I have a friend who is celiac and he eats all this processed food that is "gluten free" and I keep wanting to say that he really should be eating whole foods or his gut is never going to heal, but you just can't tell some people....

  4. Even gluten free non-packaged foods don't mean healthy.

    For pancakes I soak buckwheat flour in almond milk and lemon juice overnight. Then the next morning I add a tablespoon or two (depending on volume of mix)of rapadura, cinnamon, allspice, an egg and the almond milk to create a batter consistency. Fried in coconut oil they are so yummy and so healthy and in autumn/winter I add some of my stewed apples in a big dollop on top (and maybe even some homemade yoghurt too if the children request it). That's my pancake suggestion - yummy yum yum!


Thanks for your comments. I read every one!

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