A new processed food item for kids: Here we go again

There’s a new product from Nestle: Juicy Juice Harvest Surprise. Designed for children with its “kid-friendly flavors,” Nestle has positioned it so “Moms have a new ally to help increase their kids' fruit and vegetable servings.”

Unfortunately, what the USDA says about juice is that you should “Make most of your choices whole or cut-up fruit rather than juice, for the benefits dietary fiber provides.”

So what's the scoop with these juices?

Nestle USA, makers of all sorts of processed food items just loaded with ingredients that choke my spell check program is giving us yet another item to enjoy in lieu of whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. But is Juicy Juice Harvest Surprise any better than whole fruits or vegetables? In fact, is it even as good as whole fruits and vegetables?

The answer is NO, according to author Marion Nestle (no relation) in her excellent What to Eat: An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating: “The nutritional problem with juice of any kind is that it is extracted from the fruit pulp which contains most of the fiber and the minerals (calcium, for example) and vitamins (like beta-carotene) that go with it."

But it's loaded with vegetables. Right?
Not really. In fact, the vegetables in these juices are pretty much limited to two: Carrots and sweet potatoes. And that's it. Which means, forget about spinach. Or broccoli. Or beets or kale or collard greens or any of the other glorious vegetables out there.

And we all know we should be eating a variety of vegetables. Unprocessed vegetables. In a variety of types and colors. So we get a good range of nutrients.

But it is so convenient. And that's good, right?
I don't know that it is. This juicy juice puts kids on the path of processed foods. I worry that it naturally leads to even more processed foods, rather than the more nutritious whole foods. To McDonald’s, for example, as opposed to the farmer’s market. After all, kids learn by example. Which means, this could be doing our kids a real, long-term disservice.

Is there any good news here, at all?
Sure. The ingredient list on the juices is a lot better than the lists we are used to seeing on processed foods. For example, the Orange Mango juice has grape juice, carrot juice, apple juice, mango puree, and orange juice (water, juice and puree concentrates), sweet potato puree, natural flavors, citric acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin c). But it is 130 calories per serving. Which strikes me as a lot just for a drink. For a kid.

So what's the bottom line here, then?
Nothing can beat the ingredient list of real orange. A whole, sweet, orange, picked that morning, sold at the market that afternoon, and enjoyed that night.

Nothing at all.


Postscript: I just tripped across a list of the seven most sugar-filled drinks at Diet Blog (thanks Diet Blog). Shocking.