Mar 10, 2015

Urban myths

An apple a day keeps the Doctor away. Even the Food Doctor, perhaps. But in these new skeptical times, how healthy is fruit anyway?

Well, according to the proudly-named, fruits (in their natural, solid forms) are genuinely good for us, and can also help with weight management because of their high satiety index: ‘Because of the fibre, the water and all the chewing, fruits are very satiating; apples and oranges are among the highest scoring foods tested, even more satiating than beef and eggs.’

There’s been a lot of bad press about the ‘naturally sweet’ component of fruits, fructose, but much of the genuine harm is caused by the large amounts of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used in many processed foods. According to the same website: ‘Fruits in their natural solid forms contain much smaller amounts of fructose than processed HFCS. Their fructose is combined with other nutrients and fibre. So they are digested more slowly without overdosing on fructose’.

I liked their summary: ‘The majority of people would see great health benefits by replacing some of the crap they are eating with fruit.’

Back in the supermarket fresh fruit has always been given pride of place, and nowadays it is often supplemented by small packs of snackable cut fruit. But the biggest growth area for fruit as a snack is in its dried form. Is it as healthy? That depends. According to, snackers should ‘take note of the ingredient list: Only the fruit should be listed. Look for packages that say ‘no sulphites’, a preservative that maintains colour. Dried fruit shouldn’t look like the original; while it might not be pretty, brown and shrivelled is your best bet.’

The American writer and satirist P. J. O’Rourke famously described a fruit as ‘a vegetable with looks and money’. But clearly not when it’s dried, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is when the branding and packaging artists come in to weave our magic! Step forward the matt foil pouch, almost fruit-like with its peachy-smooth soft touch. Graphically the traditional formula is to reference the original fresh product, bringing back the looks and money. But that doesn’t make dried fruit into a lifestyle accessory.

Urban Fruit does. Genius name, quirky, cool logo, pure, fresh colours and a giant bowler-hatted fruit cartoon. And a nice bit of fake wood SRP (a trend started by Heinz ketchup) to remind us it’s (almost) all natural inside.