If it says organic, it must be healthy. Right?

Organic foods have become very popular as a result of a trend toward wanting cleaner, healthier foods that have less of an environmental footprint. But does the organic label necessarily mean it is healthy? I tend to think so. But my peanut butter experience this morning taught me a valuable lesson: even though the food is organic, it is not necessarily a quality product.

peanut butterThe first clue was that this organic peanut butter was fully mixed. Typically the oil separates in all-natural peanut butters, requiring some stirring before eating. This peanut butter was as smooth as Skippy. In hindsight, I guess this is what they meant by the “Smooth Peanut Butter” on the label; I had assumed it was to distinguish it from the crunchy variety.

The second clue that this was not a natural product was that it tasted like…Skippy. Sweet. In fact it doesn’t have a very strong peanut flavour. Or at least not compared to the peanut butter I usually eat.

So I looked at the label and was a bit surprised. Not only does it contain added sugar, but it has added oil! But the palm oil and sugar that were added are organic, so they must be healthy right?

peanut butter

This jar was the store brand organics from Metro. In this case, I would call it an ironic brand name.

I did a quick google search, and found more than one other organic peanut butter that contains palm oil and sugar. Thankfully more of them are what I call proper peanut butters because they only have 1 ingredient: freshly roasted organic peanuts, including President’s Choice Organics, A. Vogel, Nuts To You, and Santa Cruz.

Lesson learned for me: read the label even if it says organic.

I’m actually debating returning this jar as I just don’t see myself eating it. I wonder if they would allow the return since technically there is nothing wrong with it.

Have you ever purchased a product that you thought would be healthy only to discover that it was not? If so, please share.

Elsbeth Vaino is a personal trainer in Ottawa, Canada.

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