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Weekly Roundup: SunChips Outcry, NYC Soda Ban And Healthy Eggs

This Week's Top Stories:

SunChips Outcry | NYC Soda Ban | Healthy Eggs

Consumers Dump SunChip's Compostable Bag

Don't like the noise in SunChip's new compostable bag? You can join the 49,251 others in the "SORRY BUT I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THIS SUN CHIPS BAG" group of Facebook. Followers have posted: "I'd rather hear screeching nails on a chalkboard!!!" and "Have you ever touched one of those bags!... Its like a speaker on BLAST."

This group seems relatively harmless compared to other Facebook groups that rally around shared mundane experiences, but SunChips listened. As of Tuesday SunChips has immediately discontinued making its biodegradable product for all but the "Original" flavor.

The loud noise of the bags is attributed to its unusual molecular structure that enables it to be rigid and still compost in gardens and landfills. This move to environmentally friendly packaging has been praised by environmentalists, but apparently not everyone was convinced.

"The bag illustrates the sometimes unexpected bumps that can trip up companies trying to do the right thing environmentally. SunChips sales have declined more than 11% over the past 52 weeks." Bruce Horovitz from USA Today reports.

Although the "Original" SunChips flavor is still wrapped in the noisy, compostable bag, SunChips hasn't indicated whether or not they'll resume the eco-packaging on their other flavors. They state on their website:

Truth be told, our compostable bag sounds a bit different than our other bags, That's because the plant-based materials used to make our compostable bag have different sound qualities than the materials used to make our other bags. Although our compostable bag is a bit louder, we hope you'll appreciate its environmental benefits.

And, if Facebook groups are a good barometer for the company's popularity, many do value SunChips' noisy, biodegradeable bags. Comments posted by the 387,797 Facebook members who "like" SunChips, demonstrate the continued support for SunChips' initiative: "We love the compostable bag! What a great idea! The noise isn't a factor for us" and "I'm completely disgusted to have heard that you are bringing the petroleum-based bags back."

Now SunChips needs to make a decision. It can court consumers who are willing to pay (and tolerate noise) for environmental initiatives, or it can resume its place in the market of cheap, salty snacks.

Even as it says it is continuing research on new biodegradable bags, it is losing ground with both markets. With calls for bans on SunChips until they resume their eco-packaging conflicting with other Facebook groups like "the 100% compostable sun chips bag is 110% annoying" (541 people like this), SunChips will have to stay strong to its environmental principles if it's truly going to usher in a more environmentally friendly packaging future.

Read More:

  • SunChips not-so-quietly buries its noisy compostable bags (Grist)
  • Frito-Lay sends noisy, 'green' SunChips bag to the dump (USA Today)
  • NYC Moves to Take Soda Off the Food-stamp Shopping List (SunChips)


NYC Mayor Proposes To Ban Soda From Food-Stamp Program

These recent eye-catching videos released by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene illustrate the latest chapter in NYC's battle against obesity.

Warning: This second video is not for the weak-stomached.

Pouring on the Pounds

Grossed out? That's how NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg feels about soda, and as of Thursday, he's taken another steps to limit its consumption. The United States Department of Agriculture already bans cigarettes, beer, wine, liquor, and prepared foods from the federal food-stamp program, and if Bloomberg's proposal passes, New York will add soda to that list.

However, regardless of the health benefits of removing soda purchases from the food-stamp program, the proposal raises serious questions about stigmatizing poverty.

In NYC's waiver request to USDA, it reports that in 2009 an estimated $75 to $135 million dollars of food-stamp funds were spent on sweetened beverages in New York City alone. Since soda contains no substance other than sugar and chemicals, they point out that this is an alarming amount of money to spend on the equivalent of liquid candy.

Reducing soda consumption is undeniably a healthier choice for consumers. However, Bloomberg's proposal raises controversial issues of classism and stereotypes that low-income individuals make worse food choices than others.

George Hacker, a senior policy adviser for the health promotion project, had this to say:

The world would be better, I think, if people limited their purchases of sugared beverages. However, there are a great many ethical reasons to consider why one would not want to stigmatize people on food stamps.

Marion Nestle, blog author of "Food Politics," adds, "I would much prefer incentives: make the benefit worth twice as much when spent for fresh (or single-ingredient frozen) fruits and vegetables."

But Bloomberg's proposal highlights the growing danger of the obesity epidemic. "In spite of the great gains we've made over the past eight years in making our communities healthier, there are still two areas where we're losing ground - obesity and diabetes," he said. He believes this initiative will give New York families more money to spend on truly nutritious foods.

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Is A $4 Carton Of Organic Eggs Actually Healthier Than A $2 Carton Of Conventional Eggs?

The recent salmonella outbreak has highlighted the negative effects of inhumane egg farm conditions, but what are the differences between a regular carton of eggs and one marked organic or free range/cage free?

Free range eggs are laid by hens that have regular access to an outdoor, vegetated pasture. Studies by Penn State University and by Mother Earth News report that free range chickens produced eggs that contained at least double the vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids compared to conventional eggs. Additionally, Mother Earth News found the pastured eggs contained less cholesterol and saturated fat and more vitamin A than conventional eggs.

Companies like Country Hen and others often find loopholes around these regulations, and can achieve organic status if they provide the chickens with cages into the air instead of actually to pasture. It seems that the best way to have the healthiest eggs is to research the company or buy locally.

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