Gluten Free | No Artificial Flavors or Colors | Naturally Flavored
Net carbs: 13 g Added sugars: 9 g
Emotional Reaction: ☹️🍫❌
www.safeway.com <– This is the closest thing to an Open Nature Website, and it has no info about the brand or the products.
This basically tastes like a snickers bar. That’s because it basically is a snickers bar.
Well, that’s not entirely fair to say. I looked up Snickers bar and, while they have a similar calorie count, Snickers and Open Nature(ON) bars vary significantly in their macronutrient ratios.
Overall, though, the flavor experience is largely the same. There’s no smooth velvety caramel in ON, but the chocolate and sugar combo tastes like a candy bar.
This is how they fool you. The excellent nut flavors make you think it’s healthier than it is, even though 25% of this flavor comes from the sugars.
It always blows me away that people choose to put multiple sweeteners in a product. Sugar, Honey, and Glucose Syrup Solids probably all have slightly different flavors that combine into a more complex blend.
Here’s the problem with ON’s flavor. They don’t even trust real chocolate to taste good, so they put in extra natural flavors. I often assume that “natural flavors” are essential oils of some sort, but the reality is probably less healthy and more complicated.
I think people have become so habituated to the processed oversweetened flavors that normal foods I consider delicious probably register as bitter or strange. For example, I would just use 70% dark chocolate, no sugar, maybe a little bit of honey to add balance, and keep the same blend of nuts & salt.
That would be delicious to me and my hippy friends, but probably overwhelming to the average western consumer. This is one of the many ways that modern society has made people soft. We’re unaccustomed to even eating real food. People expect the culinary equivalent of padding the corners in your house to protect a newborn.
It’s not a popular position, but I hold consumers as responsible for this as I do food producers. Through our lack of scrutiny and our acceptance of industry propaganda, we’ve allowed corporations to profit off selling us garbage. This opens the door to other corporations profiting off the medical expenses that come from eating a terrible diet.
No one talks about how much we’d save in medical expenses if we just ate better.
This is run-of-the-mill normie corporate health food packaging. Green, white and blue is a color palette people associate with health & cleanliness. Good color choices by the designers.
I’m suspicious, though, that Safeway hired the same graphic designers who made KIND Bar’s packaging, because they’re essentially identical. Obviously the colors are different, but the overall layout is the same.
Overall this is a pleasant yet unexceptional wrapper. They’re fairly honest about the nutrition up front, but they don’t inform you how much of the Daily Value of sugar you’re consuming (about 19% for men, 26% for women.)
Most of these all natural ingredients are pretty innocuous. But there are some important lies I need to uncover here.
As I mentioned earlier, ON bars have more protein and less carbs than snickers. That said, precisely ¼ of an ON Nut Bar is sugar, 90% of it added. Some of it is in the form of “Glucose Syrup Solids.”
I’ve been noticing glucose/corn syrup solids in a lot of random products ranging from protein bars to summer sausages. This is what glucose syrup solids look like –>
That looks suspiciously like sugar. And it is sugar, just in a more processed and refined form. I wonder what the legal threshold is for calling something “natural.” If it requires a complex industrial enzymatic extraction method, can you really put it in the same category as almonds and salmon?
I say no. Many sweet syrups are highly processed, and the more you process a food, the less healthy and natural it is. That seems like a no-brainer to me.
The other troubling ingredient here is Soy Lecithin. Lecithins are industrially processed emulsifiers that require intense chemical processes to produce.
Here’s a quote from the abstract of W. Van Nieuwenhuysen’s paper “Lecithin Production and Properties:
“Soy lecithins are important emulsifiers used in the food, feed, pharmaceutical, and technical industries. Native lecithin is derived from soybean oil in four steps: hydration of phosphatides, separation of the sludge, drying, and cooling.”
Separation of the sludge????? That doesn’t sound good at all.
More troubling than the questionable production methods, though, are soy lecithin’s effects as an endocrine disruptor. Chemicals that disrupt your endocrine system give you hormone issues that sap your energy and cause health problems like weight gain and erectile dysfunction later in life.
Soy is largely harmful, due to its high phytoestrogen content. Fermented soy products like Tempeh and Miso are less harmful, and can be a great part of a plant-based diet.
Industrial soy-based additives like lecithin are almost always harmful, though, and you should avoid them at all costs. Being “all natural” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.
I actually stopped eating Campbells and Progresso soup because they all have soy protein isolates in them. Soy in general is not good for you, it’s just popular because corporations can produce lots of soy beans quickly at relatively low costs.
The problem here is that most soy production comes from massive monocropping operations that destroy the soil, displace wildlife, and wreak general havoc on the environment. Industrial agriculture is notorious for using chemical fertilizers too, which all eventually find their way into our drinking water.
I do not support a soy-based future. Soy has too many detrimental effects on our bodies and on the environment.
Open Nature is a very successful company that sort of popped up out of nowhere. In the last two years I started seeing their products in almost every aisle of the grocery store.
It turns out there’s a simple explanation for that: Safeway created Open Nature to ride the organic wave to greater profits.
Grocery chains always release their own product lines to undercut the other producers they stock. I’m not sure what sort of supply chain wizardry goes into this price manipulation, but every single grocery store brand is cheaper than most alternatives
Safeway’s decision to create a whole new line of “natural” products is a testament to the power of social pressure from consumers. People are clamoring for products with less additives and other junk.
Open nature initially launched with a bunch of meat products. Their ground beef is noticeably better than the cheap high-volume ground beef, and noticeably more expensive. There’s always a tradeoff; Open Nature products are pricier due to the higher quality ingredients.
The same cannot be said for the nut bars, tough. They’re pretty much the same price point as Kind, which is a functionally identical product. That is, a fake healthy candy bar with weird additives.
These are small enough to be easily snackable. Do not consume ON nut bars, though, unless you want a candy bar that will disrupt your endocrine system.
Overall, Open Nature Bars get a rating of ☹️🍫❌
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