“What to Eat,” by Marion Nestle taught me something trully nasty, and I’m glad it did

I’ve been trying to educate myself about nutrition, off and on, for many years. This year, with the advent of my blog, I’ve been very dedicated to learning about nutrition, in particular, and food, in general.

And I’ve learned a lot. So I was shocked, shocked, when something I always thought was healthy was not.

Yesterday, I introduced you to Marion Nestle’s book “What to Eat: An Aisle-by-Aisle guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating.” Well, I’m sure I flatter myself. I’m sure you already heard all about it and probably even read it. But if you did not, you might want to pop back to yesterday’s post and read some of the nuggets of wisdom Dr. Nestle shares in her book.

Now, because I’ve been educating myself about nutrition for so long, most of what the good doctor (Ph.D., not physician) had to say was not surprising. It was certainly useful: Some of it straightened out confusions, some introduced new evidence or perspectives, and some provided details I didn’t have.

But only one tidbit of information was truly surprising.

Fruit concentrate is sugar
I see “fruit concentrate” on the back of a package and I think it is the same as, for example, concentrated juice. In other words, they suck out the water and the concentrate is what you are left with. Such as with a container of frozen orange juice. But, boy, was I wrong.

In “What to Eat Now,” author Marion Nestle says that, to make fruit concentrate “... food chemists process fruit juice until it is basically fruit-flavored sugar ...”

In fact, Dr. Nestle tells us “‘Fruit concentrate,’ according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, is a euphemism for sugars.”

We've been drinking sugar. Damn.

Snapple, how could you?
The example the kind doctor uses to illustrate fruit concentrates is the Snapple Fruit Punch made for the New York City schools. She tells us that the label indicated that it was made from six kinds of fruit concentrates (as well as flavor additives, vitamins, and calcium).

At 170 calories, Marion Nestle calls the Snapple drink “... a dessert.” She says “As soon as you start thinking of soft drinks as desserts, you may find it hard to tolerate their presence in school vending machines or to let children drink them all day.” Indeed.

Thank you, Dr. Nestle.