3 Reasons to Ditch the UNhealthy Goldfish Crackers
A few weeks ago my son’s school sent home a request for families to donate boxes of goldfish crackers to his kindergarten class. My son said they’d been reading a book about fish and got to eat goldfish crackers as part of the lesson.
Little did he know this innocent request would cause his mama to go a little bonkers.
I’m sure my son often wonders how something as cute and yummy as goldfish crackers can get his mom all worked up. Most of the time I try to keep him out of any processed food dilemma I’m working through whether it be what’s being served at school or what snack we bring to a play date. He has enough on his proverbial plate, so I try to keep him out of these processed food conundrums.
But this time I had to explain why we were driving to Whole Foods to find another cracker for school.
I’m not the only one concerned about these goldfish. Pepperidge Farm, the maker of goldfish crackers, was slapped with a lawsuit over these little artificial fish last year due to their “natural” claims on the label. Somehow though, the lawsuit didn’t hit the mainstream population because since school started I’ve seen goldfish crackers on stroller snack trays, in plastic snack cups, and now apparently in my son’s kindergarten class.
The truth is that any natural claims on a goldfish cracker box are false. Sadly the term “natural” on a food label these days doesn’t hold much weight. But there is good news. There are safer and healthier options out there that I can’t wait to tell you about… but first let’s talk about the 3 main reasons to ditch those unhealthy GOLDFISH CRACKERS.
3 Reasons to Ditch the UNhealthy Goldfish Crackers
1. Goldfish crackers contain GMOs.
If you look at the ingredient label of any package of goldfish crackers you will see the purposely vague: “Vegetable Oils.” While vegetable oil may sound like a healthy ingredient, it turns out these types of oils are pretty inflammatory and may contain chemicals, pesticides and rancid oils. On top of that, some of these oils are derived from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs (soybean oil for one). Genetically Modified foods have caused a lot of controversy in the last couple of years. Unfortunately no independent scientific research was done on these foods before they hit the market in 1996 and new research done by concerned consumer groups show these genetically modified organisms are both toxic and allergenic (source, source). GMOs are restricted or banned in 30 countries and counting. Yet in the USA we use GMO ingredients in crackers marketed to toddlers and children without proper labeling.
2. Goldfish crackers contain MSG.
That ingredient on the label that says: “autolyzed yeast” is a form of MSG. MSG is a flavor enhancer used in a variety of processed foods and spice mixes. According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board certified neurosurgeon, MSG is an excitotoxin that damages your brain cells by means of overstimulation. He warns that these excitotoxins may cause varying levels of cellular brain damage that can potentially trigger learning disabilities and neurological conditions.
3. Goldfish crackers are CUTE.
This is probably the most troubling part about the whole goldfish dilemma. The packaging is so cute and unassuming. During our time living abroad, we happened upon a gourmet grocery store that sold goldfish crackers for about $12. My children had never had a goldfish cracker in their lives but they RECOGNIZED THE LABEL and begged me for them. The label reminded them of home—a sign of very effective and very scary marketing to children.
What can a concerned parent do?
With increased consumer pressure on packaged food manufacturers to remove artificial ingredients, I hope one day soon goldfish crackers will be free from all these questionable ingredients. This post often gets a lot of heated comments (most of which I can’t post because they’re mean and Kula Mama is a happy place). I didn’t write this post to upset anyone, however, I do think it’s important to make conscious decisions about what we feed our kids. I hope in a year or so I can update this post to say, YAY, goldfish crackers are now FREE of the above ingredients! But in the meantime, what can a parent do?
Make your own crackers!
Honestly my kids love homemade crackers (and both are picky eaters). Not only will your kids eat them, but you can rest assured knowing exactly what you are feeding them. Here’s a list of my favorite goldfish replacement recipes:
Sprouted Flour Cheddar Crackers from Mommypotamus
Homemade goldfish cracker recipe from Thank Your Body
Easy Cheesy Crackers from 100 Days of Real Food
Cheesy Paleo Crackers from Savory Lotus
Homemade Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers from Five Little Homesteaders
And finally, FIGHT BACK!
Did this post upset you? Let food manufacturers know that you want to see change. Then tell your representatives. Don’t know where to start? Here are some great groups fighting for GMO labeling and a healthy world for kids.