Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Give a hand to Hannaford

I read about Hannaford Supermarkets' Guiding Stars program in Adbusters.

The gist of it is that Hannaford is marking products with stars that signify healthiness. Between zero (least healthy) and three stars (healthiest) are awarded.

"Almost eighty percent of the products rated did not receive any stars."

This correlates with my opinion of the modern supermarket. I buy lots of food in the produce section, usually some beans, pasta, oil, canned tomatoes or nuts in the middle aisles, eggs or some cheese every few visits, and sometimes frozen fruit or vegetables. In other words, I skip the bulk of the middle aisles with their food-imposter substances.

Hannaford won't disclose the formula they used to award the stars, but it looks pretty sound to me. This page indicates that "pluses" are fiber and certain vitamins, while "negatives" are saturated fat, cholestrol, and sugar. Here are some other interesting ratings.

High scores: pasta, cereals, seafood, fruits and vegetables (100% of fruits and veggies received three stars!)
Low scores: canned soup, meat, soft drinks, bakery items, flavored yogurts, eggs, butter

I'm impressed that Hannaford pulled this off without a huge corporate outcry. Hooray to them for standing up to highly processed foods that masquerade as health foods. They also don't seem to be biased towards animal products.

"The team also took into account less-than-healthy foods and beverages that are fortified with added vitamins, minerals or fiber to help overcome their nutritional shortcomings.

'We didn't give points for over-fortifying,' said Jeffrey Blumberg, a professor of nutrition at Tufts and a member of the scientific team." (More here.)


Theresa said...

That's really interesting. I'd be curious to see the average star rating of some people's shopping carts.

Andy and I always wonder what supermarket cashiers must think when we rock up with only produce, cereal, and pasta (and some tinned items), and a buttload of soy milk and/or tofu. It's even funnier when, behind us, someone has a cart full of soft drink, cookies and chips. And lots of processed meals and cheese.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

I agree with Theresa; I always wonder what the cashiers think of all my healthy foods. I'd like to think that maybe I inspire some of them to try some of the interesting products I buy!