Little. Blue. Packs a powerful punch.
No, we're not talking Viagra, we're referring to the blueberry. King on the list of "superfoods," blueberries are chock full of cancer cell inhibitors and anti-inflammatory agents. In addition, recent research has found the tiny fruit effective in lowering brain damage from stroke, preventing cell replication of the hepatitis C virus, lowering cholesterol, alleviating the symptoms of depression, and enhancing memory in older adults - the kind of hype that translates into marketing gold for major food manufacturers.
However, last week award-winning investigative journalist Mike Adams (also known as "The Food Ranger") released a report for Natural News's FoodInvestigations.com exposing the deceptive labeling practices employed by General Mills, Kellogg's, Betty Crocker, and Target brand foods in regards to their blueberry products. What he found? Most contained little to no blueberries at all.
What the hell? If those blue-colored bits floating around in our cereal and lurking in our muffins aren't blueberries, then what are they? According to Adams, many times what American consumers perceive as a blueberry is actually a combination of artificial colors derived from petrochemicals (most commonly Red #40, and Blue #1 or #2), hydrogenated oils, and sugars - ingredients more often associated with causing cancer than preventing it.
A few examples highlighted in the report:
Blueberry Bagels - Target Made with "blueberry bits" comprised entirely of sugar, corn cereal, modified food starch, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, artificial flavor, cellulose gum, salt and artificial colors (Blue #2, Red #40, Green #3 and Blue #1). We get it. "Cellulose Gum Bagels" just doesn't have the same sparkle.
Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal - General Mills Contains no actual blueberries or pomegranates (another food getting a lot of attention for its antioxidant properties). Found instead: red #40, blue #2, sucralose, sugar, corn syrup and brown sugar syrup. This kind of reminds me of the time I discovered the fine print recommending that I take not one, but two of my One-A-Day VitaCraves Gummy vitamins each day. Those bastards!
Frosted Mini Wheats Blueberry Muffin - Kellogg's Fresh blueberries featured on the package - blueberry "crunchlets" on the label. WTF is a crunchlet? Apparently, it's a mixture of sugars, soybean oil, red #40 and blue #2.
Special K Blueberry Fruit Crisps - Kellogg's According to the website, the product is "made with real fruit and drizzled with vanilla icing." In this case, "real fruit" amounts to apple powder, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, fructose, sugar, artificial colors red #40 and blue #1, and a dash of blueberry puree concentrate.
Blueberry Muffin Mix - Betty Crocker There's blueberries in the name and on the package, but the truth is in the fine print: Does not contain actual blueberries. The items masquerading as berries in the mix are in reality a combination of dextrose, corn flour, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, sugar, citric acid, artificial flavor, Blue #1, and Red #40. Mmmm...there's nothing like the smell of freshly baked food additives in the morning!
Why is this such a common practice in the food industry? Blueberries are expensive - food additives are not. In addition to advocating a nationwide boycott of General Mills, Natural News is asking consumers to contact the company and voice their opinions on the deceptive labeling on a number of their products. And if the fake blueberries hiding in popular American brands really chap your ass but you find yourself at a loss for words, there's even a pre-written letter of protest on the Natural News website, ready to be copied, pasted, and emailed to the faux berry peddler of your choice.