Grocers launch new healthy labeling campaigns

The rubric at grocery stores used to be that if you wanted to stick to the healthiest, freshest foods, you stuck to the outer boundaries of the store, and closed your eyes while you ambled past the pastas and the cookies while you made your way to the milk. But now that healthy shoppers are spending big bucks -- and things like a half-gallon of organic milk go for $4 a pop -- grocers are interested in getting you to the good stuff as fast and as easily as possible.

Hence, signs.

Giant Food and Stop & Shop, owned by the same parent company, just announced a new initiative called "healthy ideas" to lure shoppers to the 10% of the products in their stores that can be considered healthy. Expect big blue and green displays in the produce aisles, as well as scattered throughout the store. Most of all, you can bet the stores will be touting pricey organic products as much as possible.The new program joins a handful of others, says the Wall Street Journal, which have been met with varying degrees of success. The paper notes that the first effort, the Guiding Stars program from Hannaford Foods, was criticized because it didn't label V8 juice as healthy because it has too much sodium.

And to some customers, the labeling opportunities may seem like just another gimmick. Do most shoppers really need a sign to point out to them that Brussels spouts are considered healthy? But for boxed and canned foods, it might come in handy. When faced with a selection of 40 different pastas, a shopper might opt for whatever is labeled healthy in the new program, saving themselves from eating too much processed white flour.

But what about this number hidden in the article that only 10% of the food in these supermarkets could be considered healthy. On the one hand, it could be heartening to know that the program has high standard. On the other, it's a clear warning that most of what we buy is junk.
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