A couple of weeks ago, I cruised the "baby supplies" aisle at Walgreens while Beaker was off looking for something: fragrance free shaving cream, perhaps? In between the disposable nursing pads and the supposedly anatomically correct nipples were some bottles of Ensure. Ensure?! Yes, Ensure Healthy Mom.
Now, I'm not a food Nazi in any particular direction. I've never been a vegetarian. I kept eating butter all through the 90's, and I still eat pasta now (and I'm praying my GTT this morning went better than it felt like it did, 'cause I sure don't want to stop). I usually can't bring myself to pay extra for organic anything. But if I had to pick a direction for dietary extremity, it would be a sort of a Mark Bittman (or maybe Fast Food Nation) one: that food should be made from recognizable things, put through a series of comprehensible steps, many of which you perform yourself. Dead animals, vegetables, grains. Cut 'em up, mix 'em together, grind 'em, boil 'em, roast 'em, grill 'em, fry 'em—there's really a lot of possibilities, you know?
So we cook dinner most nights. I don't consume artificial sweeteners or fat-free "sour cream." I'm annoyed that the local Whole Foods doesn't have any whole grain bread out by their soup bar. I try to have some idea of how many steps from sunlight and dirt our food really is.
I ended up ranting to Beaker all the way home from Walgreen's about Ensure Healthy Mom and how it was, like, the worst thing ever. For instance:
Ingredients: (Homemade Vanilla Shake): (U)-D Water, sugar (sucrose), calcium caseinate, corn maltodextrin, high oleic safflower oil, canola oil, natural & artificial flavor, cellulose gel, carrageenan, soy lecithin, and cellulose gum
Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium phosphate, magnesium phosphate, magnesium chloride, sodium citrate, potassium citrate, potassium phosphate, ascorbic acid, choline chloride, salt (sodium chloride), dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, niacinamide, manganese sulfate, calcium pantothenate, cupric sulfate, thiamine chloride hydrochloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, vitamin A palmitate, beta-carotene, chromium chloride, folic acid, sodium molybdate, biotin, potassium iodide, sodium selenate, phylloquinone, vitamin D3 and cyanocobalamin. (7948-02)
Sugar! Spray-dried dispersible milk protein! More sugar! Oil! Mysterious flavoring agents, plus some thickeners! Good job counting salt under "vitamins and minerals," folks. And let's not forget the selenium. Mmmmmm, mmmmmm, good! Just what I want to feed the fetus growing inside me!
I'll spare you the snarky analysis of the snack bars (well, except to note that they contain four different kinds of sugar). And the lengthy disquisition on how little pregnant women in the U.S. need a fully manufactured food product marketed straight at their "cravings."
Well. I was planning to forget all about Ensure Healthy Mom products, but then they came and found me. In my Emma Jane inbox today was a message from a "relationship marketing agency:"
...These new shakes offer moms the flavors they crave and help provide some of the extra nutrition essential during pregnancy and while nursing.
We Want to Hear From You!
We're excited to offer this new, healthy option for pregnant women. But it's your opinion that really matters. We recognize that during your pregnancy you're keeping a blog where you share experiences, events, and insights with other women online.
Be Among the First to Try Ensure Healthy Mom!
We'd like to send you free samples of Ensure Healthy Mom for you to try. All we ask in return is that you post an honest review on your blog. We hope, of course, that you like the product, but we're most interested in your opinion. And we would appreciate a link to your review after you have posted it online...
I suppose this isn't really a review, since I haven't consumed the product. But I am so not willing to even try it. You really misjudged this member of your target demographic, folks.
ADDENDUM 1: Yes, I know perfectly well that all foods are made up of "chemicals." It's not the polysyllabicity that gets to me, it's the overprocessing and the industries that carry it out.
ADDENDUM 2: Yes, I treat e-mail sent to me as confidential. Unless the sender explicitly says otherwise, or the sender tries to recruit my blog to a cause I consider really heinous.