Walmart Is Going To Tell You Straight Up Which Foods Are Healthy

In case you aren’t sure whether spinach is good for you, or maybe those pork rinds are trying to convince you they’re healthy, Walmart is spelling it out plainly with a new logo. They’re introducing a “Great For You” icon, which will be displayed on some food items in its aisles, in an attempt to convince shoppers they want you to eat healthy and save money while you’re at it.

Reuters says the labeling is part of Walmart’s promise to try to improve the nutritional value of its products and also cut prices on healthier options. They sell the most food in the country, so if these changes make in impact, shoppers could see it echo at other supermarkets.

In order to be “Great For You,” foods have to meet certain requirements. Fresh fruit, vegetables, lean cuts of meat, brown rice, skim and 1 percent milk are on the list, whereas white rice and whole milk are not. And oh yeah, candy isn’t healthy!

“There are no candy bars,” said Andrea Thomas, the company’s senior vice president of sustainability. But some other things were a bit more debatable, even after speaking with experts and health organizations. “We had a nice, long debate about eggs,” she added, which ended up on the healthy list.

In order to help sway customers to the healthy side, Walmart says they’ve also reduced or totally done away with the price difference between 350 healthy items and their not as healthy counterparts.

Walmart to label healthy food as “Great for You” [Reuters]

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  1. Rebecca K-S says:

    Eggs actually are pretty darn good for you, especially the free roaming, naturally grazing chicken eggs I’m sure Walmart doesn’t carry.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I think free range eggs taste better but is there really any research (from an accredited body) indicating they are any more or less healthy than any other egg?

      • Rebecca K-S says:

        I don’t think there’s much difference between conventional grocery store eggs and “free range” eggs they sell (which is essentially meaningless). But yes, eggs from pastured chickens may be higher in omegas and a variety of vitamins and lower in cholesterol. Unfortunately I’m just about out the door and don’t have a minute right now to look up a source.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Ah, yes. The old “I’m just running out the door so I can’t provide you with actual evidence” routine. Classic!

          : – )

          • Cor Aquilonis says:

            Ahh, the old “too damn lazy to Google for thirty seconds to find out the answer to my own question” routine!

            http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/2007-10-01/Tests-Reveal-Healthier-Eggs.aspx

            • longfeltwant says:

              You are using MotherEarthNews as an unbiased source for factual information? Um, sorry, no.

              I once bought two dozen eggs: one dozen regular eggs, and one dozen fancypants organic wundereggs. Making cookies, I cracked one of each kind into the bowl. Obviously I couldn’t do a nutrition test, but I can testify that the organic egg was absolutely, positively a brighter, deeper yellow color and looked in every way much more appetizing.

              So which kind do I buy regularly now? Plain eggs. I would need some actual science before I’d pay that much for eggs.

              • Cor Aquilonis says:

                Do you have any evidence to the contrary beyond “Eww, Mother Earth News, gross?” Did you even read the “Mounting Evidence” sidebar – where they cite their sources?

                I’m not claiming they’re unbiased – it’s obvious their readership is interested in the subject. I’m claiming it’s evidence to support the position that eggs from pastured hens are more nutritious than commercially produced eggs. Do you have any evidence to the contrary?

              • Rebecca K-S says:

                I don’t blame you for questioning the source. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem there’s been a huge amount of research from less biased groups, but knowing what I do about the nutrition of pastured v. factory farmed beef, and observing the obvious visual differences between eggs (natural color is usually an indication of increased nutritional value), I’m inclined to side with Mother Earth News and their god awful website. I mean, it makes perfect sense that animals fed an appropriate diet would produce healthier meats and eggs.

    • Remarkable Melba Kramer says:

      Actually they do, at least at my local one here in MO.

    • Starfury says:

      I make my own free range eggs at home….

      Actually I have an in-law that has a small ranch/farm and at times will give us fresh eggs. The yolk is much more yellow than the mass produced ones we usually get. I haven’t noticed any difference in taste, just the color.

    • tooluser says:

      Nope, eggs are Hell’s demon seeds. Nasty bad.

      So much for opinion.

      You gonna finish that dog?

  2. valkyrievf2x says:

    White rice not healthy?

    • dulcinea47 says:

      It just depends. Brown rice has more fiber, which is good for you. But brown & white have the same number of calories, and it’s not low-cal.

      • Doubting thomas says:

        Low cal does not equal healthy!!!!!

        Carbs are good for you! Calories are good for you! But what is really good for you is this wonderful thing called moderation.

      • Spaghettius! says:

        brown rice breaks down slower than white, so it sort of is lower in calories in a calories-your-body-breaks-down-over-time ratio.
        I personally find that it keeps me feeling full longer, because my body doesn’t burn it up and demand moar food asap. For me, feeling hungry is like having an angry toddler tug at my pant leg, so I really appreciate the difference.

    • kayfouroh says:

      Brown rice typically has more nutrients than white rice.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      It is a simple carb, which your body turns immediately into sugar, and contains little to no nutritive value.

      Or at least that’s how it’s been explained to me. Brown rice is better because it still has the healtheir components still attached (the germ has all of the nutrients!)

    • sirwired says:

      Yeah, that’s borderline… when combined with sufficient physical activity to burn the carbs, even the most otherwise-horrible refined carbohydrates are a perfectly-acceptable source of calories, when combined with other foods, like vegetables and a protein source to round out your diet.

      But I can see where Wal-Mart is coming from… let’s face it, even with moderate exercise, most people in the U.S. live what would be considered a sedentary lifestyle. Under those circumstances, refined grains are not good for you.

    • Greg Ohio says:

      To your body, white rice is essentially sugar. Fine in moderation, but not really healthy.

    • Cat says:

      I’ve tried like hell to get the wife off the white rice, but being an Asian “comfort food”, that’s just not happening. Making 2 different kinds of rice just ends up being wasteful, so… The best I can manage is for her to make it with 50% brown rice, for my sake.

      Given the choice I’d prefer wild rice, but it’s so damned expensive. White rice is just too bland for my liking.

  3. rpm773 says:

    Let the hilarity ensue as “Great for you” tags are mischievously transferred to bins containing packages of “Deep-friend Mayonnaise Balls”, and other items of questionable nutrition.

  4. Don't Bother says:

    “Yes, we’ll put this stick on your spinach bags, but what are you going to do for us, hmmmm?”

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Kroger (King Soopers) is doing something similar, putting numbers on foods to indicate their healthiness. It’s a nice idea, except the healthy qualities of many foods are debatable, and is certainly depends on what kind of diet you’re seeking (i.e. low sugar, low fat, etc.).

  6. TalKeaton: Every Puzzle Has an Answer! says:

    I’m sure we’ll be seeing articles here about the “Great for you” icons being placed on extremely unhealthy things soon.

  7. pop top says:

    If you want cheap healthy food, Aldi has a “Fit & Active” line that features low-calorie yogurt, low-calories fruit snacks and “fruit strips”, 100-calorie snack packs, whole wheat pasta, rice cakes, etc. and it’s all tasty and cheap as hell.

    /munches on chocolate rice cakes

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I don’t get to the Aldi’s in my area as much as I’d like to, since it’s 30 miles from my house, but when I do – I get the frozen lime fruit bars, not sure exactly what they’re called, but they are very tasty. I stock up on yogurt too, and the garlic vineagrette salad dressing (with real sugar and no HFCS) is good too.

    • chiieddy says:

      Out of curiosity on your rice cake (and I don’t know the answer to this and am not being facetious). Take the total carbs per serving and subtract the fiber. Divide by 15. How many carb servings are in that? It’s not the only indicator of health but chocolate + white rice (unless it’s a brown rice cake) raise flags to me.

  8. sirwired says:

    What I want to know is: “What made the cut in the cereal aisle?”

    That was the downfall of that “Smarter Choices” crap the food industry tried out a year or two ago when just about every box of over-sugared crap in the cereal aisle got the label. (The rationale, for those that don’t remember: “It’s healthier than a doughnut.”)

  9. Cor Aquilonis says:

    Pork rinds are a healthy part of my low-carb diet. Nyah.

    • longfeltwant says:

      Of course, you mean an UNhealthy part of your UNhealthy low-carb diet.

      On the other hand, I bet you look good, so at least there’s that.

      • chiieddy says:

        The bane of my existence is balancing low-carb and low-fat in my diet and trying not to overdo either. Doctor said to reduce carbs (blood sugar getting too high, nothing medical but something to watch for) and I am trying to lose weight. The result has been a heavy increase in fruit and vegetable consumption since the fiber content in most fruits (not all… ehem avocado and banana) negates most carb content. It seems to be working.

        • Not Given says:

          Don’t try to do low fat + low carb. Many of the low fat products add more sugar to make it taste better. (Also google “rabbit starvation”) Buy a blood sugar meter and test how high you go after eating something. Higher than 140 mg/dl at one hour and 120 mg/dl at 2 hours is too high. Find how much and which carbs you can eat without doing damage to yourself, find a protein needs calculator online to figure how much you need for your weight goal and activity level (so you lose less lean body mass,) then add enough fat that you don’t go hungry.

          • chiieddy says:

            I didn’t say I was going low fat/low carb. I said I was trying to find a good balance. There’s no need for me to go nuts. Just eat more fruits and vegetables and cut out more carb laden foods. I never had a huge, high fat diet, but I do have a sweet tooth.

  10. maxamus2 says:

    “labeling is part of Walmart’s promise to try to improve the nutritional value of its products”

    That statement is not true. Putting a label on something does NOT improve its nutritional value, it just lets the consumer know what the value is. It would be like saying putting the warnings on cigarette packs makes the cigarettes more healthy.

    • bks33691 says:

      You should read the actual article. In addition to labelling,

      “Walmart’s efforts also include lowering the amount of sodium and added sugars in some of its food. The company said it cut 15 percent of the sodium in Great Value ketchup, an average of 15 percent of the sodium in Great Value canned vegetables such as corn, green beans and carrots, and more than 70 percent of the sodium in fresh steaks, roasts and certain other cuts of beef.”

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        Wait… they salt their fresh meat?

        Eyech.

        • longfeltwant says:

          Almost all the meat you can buy in stores today is “up to 30% solution by weight”. The solution is a solution of salt in water — brine. If you put less salt in the brine, then you put less salt in the meat.

          Some rare butchers and whatnot have no-solution-added meats.

          • CPC says:

            Walmart recently stopped selling steaks injected with solution. That’s why the salt content is so much lower. It does taste a lot better now.

          • Saltpork says:

            I logged into consumerist today to say this exact thing. Almost all of the meat you get(unless specialty or freshly butchered) is injected with a salt solution. Salt is a preservative and helps keep that red sheen that everyone likes to see.

  11. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Sadly, I’m guessing bacon didn’t make the cut.

  12. exconsumer says:

    A step in the right direction . . . but still clinging to the old fat=bad nonsense. Eggs and whole milk not good for you? I suppose that yes, skim milk, technically, has less fat than whole milk, but I just think it’s indicative of a skewed view of health in general, that is: eat foods that have been altered to have less fat, rather than less of the original food.

    Also, I’m convinced that eating those fats straight-on has some kind of nutiritional value. No clinical study to back me up, purely anecdotal, but I just feel better, and observe better health in people who do not choose ‘low fat’ foods.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      You should check out the Fat Head documentary. It’s low budget and a bit cheesy but it’s an interesting counter to Super Size Me.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      It’s a medically-proven fact that human beings need some degree of fat in their diet, so I am inclined to agree with you.

      • longfeltwant says:

        False dichotomy and non sequitur. Of course humans need some fats; that’s not the question; the question is do they need even a tiny sliver of the fat that modern eaters get.

    • chiieddy says:

      I balance ‘low/reduced fat’ with sodium content when making my choice. Usually dairy is an easy area to cut down fat content without adding significant sodium. That said, I certainly eat fatty foods (favorite snack = sunflower seeds), but I try to make sure I’m getting some good fat in there to balance any bad fat I might be getting when I cook with butter ;-)

  13. maxamus2 says:

    Although, when you think about it, it is very sad that it takes the retailer to mark a food to tell someone it is good for them. Schools blame poor parenting for not educating the kids, parents blame the school system for not educating the kids, and now it takes freaking Walmart to educate them?

    • Spaghettius! says:

      “you are an unfit parent, your child now belongs to Carl, Jr’s.”
      oh my god… it’s really happening, isn’t it?

    • longfeltwant says:

      Yeah. It takes a village. What part do you have a problem with?

      Everyone who has the knowledge, shares the knowledge. Everyone who is ignorant, receives the knowledge.

      The problem is when the ignorant suffer from “the arrogance of ignorance”, which is when they think “I don’t know the answer, therefore the answer is not known”. Republicans are famous for this. “I don’t understand how global warming works, therefore global warming doesn’t work.” Also, evolution. Also, as in this example, nutrition.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      The problem is that food labeling is deceptive in this country, its not common for people to stand and read the label when they are buying food, they often pick up items that say “good for you” on them, even if the item is not good for you. Lays potato chips are labeled as “made with all natural ingredients” implying that they are good for your, while I don’t think anyone here would agree that potato chips are a healthy, good for you food.

  14. lonestarbl says:

    How about they initiate a “This is terrible for you” campaign?

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      They’d have to mark the other 90% of their stock throughout the whole store…

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        They could save time and money by just putting a sign out front. Or maybe…

        Wal*Mart

        * Fine print: Store contains 90% “things that are terrible.” Shop at your own risk.

    • Spaghettius! says:

      They will have 3 labels for this campagn:
      “JUNK” = foods that have no nutritional value and add only empty calories
      “CRAP” = foods that have negligible nutritional value and a lot of salt/fat/sugar/additives
      “SH*T” = foods that have no nutritional value, a lot of salt/fat/additives/not found in nature colors/create a weird chemical dependancy in your body/contain more common allergens than food product/are made from the leavings of meatscraps and whatever “filler” is.

      and also please put camo-print stickers in the shape of a pile of poo on foods that seem healthy but are actually evil in disguise (like yogurt that’s really meant to be a dessert, etc.)

      I fear for what category Nutella will fall into, but I will forgive it and love it anyway.

  15. Kitty with attitude says:

    A company’s purpose is to make a profit selling items people want to buy. Now a company is going to tell me what I should buy to be healthy. Are they also going to inspect my cart to reward or shame me for what I buy? How did the responsibility for eating healthy become a corporation’s business?
    This is a marketing gimmick – nothing more.

    • longfeltwant says:

      FFS it chafes when people say that, because I suspect that some of you actually believe it.

      There has never been a time when merchants were assumed to have no responsibility for the wares they sell. At all times throughout human history, right up until my lifetime, merchants have assumed the responsibility to help their customers select products which would serve them best. Only so recently a sick brand of economic religion has sprung up in the mud of American politics, which would saddle consumers with all the responsibility for selecting the perfect products amid a cacophony of lies and disinformation. Never, except as a result of the cognitive dissonance felt by practitioners of that economic religion, have we released merchants of the responsibility to help their customers pick out good products.

      Of *course* merchants have that responsibility. To say otherwise would be to promote the absurd proposition that consumers have all the information and wisdom they need to select the right products for themselves. They don’t; they never have; they never will. Consumers retain the prerogative of final selection, while having the right to enjoy the honest recommendation of their providers.

    • sirwired says:

      You need to grow a thicker skin. Wal-Mart isn’t preventing you from loading up your shopping cart with Lard, Twinkies, and Sugar Pops, you don’t have to pay any attention to the shelf stickers.

  16. Misha says:

    Meijer’s been doing something similar for a few years.

  17. cparkin says:

    In Canada Loblaws is testing their “Guiding Stars” program at 4 stores in the Toronto area. Products are rated from 0 to 3 stars. The more stars, the more nutritious the product is for you.

    • Cat says:

      Good lord, I haven’t heard of Loblaws since the 60′s in the states. Same goes for Star Markets… I guess Wegmans pushed them all out.

      • chiieddy says:

        Star Markets = Shaw’s (bought out). There’s plenty in New England still and some (there’s one in Quincy) still are called Star Markets.

    • chiieddy says:

      Is Loblaws and Hannaford the same parent company? Hannaford (New England) uses Guiding Stars as well.

  18. scoosdad says:

    I’m instantly suspicious that the manufacturers will have some influence into what products will or won’t get this tag.

    I see the possibility of money changing hands for the a “Great for You” tag showing up on a product.

  19. chiieddy says:

    My Grocery Store has done this for years.

  20. SilverBlade2k says:

    There’s actually a way easier way to figure out if something is ‘healthy’ or not at any grocery store:

    Anything on the outside isles is most definitely healthy. Anything within the isles has a 90% chance of it not being healthy.

    All fresh fruit, vegetables, meats (chicken/pork/steak), milk, eggs, etc…are all located on the perimeter.

    • chiieddy says:

      Some staples still are on inside aisles – dry beans, frozen fruit (no additives, just frozen) and yes, bread in my grocery.

    • Saltpork says:

      It’s a good rule of thumb, but it’s not entirely correct. I’ve seen lots of junk on the outside edge. Caramel dip for apples for example. Pure sugar. Not exactly healthy.
      5 lbs of bacon.
      Pounds of cheese, whole fat milk, heat-n-serve pizza. All junk.

      The premise is sound, but judgement is involved as well and often the healthier dry goods aren’t on the edge.

      There are 2 factors I always consider when grocery shopping.
      The first is do I have a list. If not, I make one. I rarely deviate from my list unless something stands out to me(I cook often and I mean something like frozen Cornish hens, not Oreos).
      The second factor is hunger level. I don’t tend to shop when I know I’m going to be hungry. I will buy stuff I don’t actually want that sits forever in my pantry. It’s a waste of money and food.

  21. Scamazon says:

    So how will they mark all the McDonalds franchises in their stores?

  22. Renaldow says:

    This whole thing is highly dubious. I encourage everyone who shops there to just read the labels and realize what’s healthy for themselves.

  23. Cantras says:

    My local store already has something like this, on nearly all the foods. An oatmeal-raisin cookie with no HFCS might get a 26 (out of 100) and its hfcs chocolate chip counterpart might get a 4. In the bread aisle, 10 for white, 20-something for wheat, 40-something for whole grain.

    It’s not meant to be compared between aisles — the 26 point cookie is not something comparable to wheat bread — but it’s good for comparing between similar products: which fruit snacks are less bad for you, what cuts of meat are healthier.

  24. tooluser says:

    Eat whatever you like.