I saw my first commercial for NuVal tonight. I guess I’ll be seeing them since I now live in Colorado, an area serviced by Kroger and their King Soopers chain of grocery stores.
If you haven’t heard of NuVal, it’s a newly contrived system for relaying nutritional information about food to consumers. Some people think the comprehensive listing of ingredients and nutritional contents currently found (and required by the FDA) on food are either too confusing or not helpful enough.
The solution proffered by NuVal is to mix all of the qualities of a certain food into a sort of “proprietary” algorithm and apply a numerical value score, ranging from 1 to 100. The closer to 100 the score gets, supposedly the better the food is for you.
I can appreciate the effort to try and make the shopping experience for people more intuitive, but I really don’t think NuVal is an appropriate solution.
First of all, their patent-pending algorithm is heavily biased against foods like red meat and eggs because it factors in cholesterol and saturated fat as bad things. Even though Ancel Keys himself acknowledged that dietary cholesterol has no connection to cholesterol in the blood. And any correlations between saturated fat and heart disease have been soundly refuted over and over. Heck, blood cholesterol doesn’t even correlate with heart disease.
“There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in blood. And we’ve known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter at all unless you happen to be a chicken or a rabbit.” Ancel Keys, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota 1997.
But hey, the existing paradigm hates cholesterol and saturated fat, so lets keep going with that for now.
Regardless of all of that stuff, I think the system is largely a failure because it somehow makes foods that are not equivalent, seem equivalent. For example, both iceberg lettuce and spinach both get a score of 82. I mean come on, iceberg lettuce is essentially just cellulose and water. How can it possibly hold a candle to spinach, which actually has color to it.
Beyond that, I don’t even see foods like liver on the list. There is an entire category for crackers, but liver couldn’t even be mentioned. If I had to give my own score for grass fed beef liver, it would probably be a 120 out of a 100. Richard Nikoley often refers to it as nature’s multivitamin. At least they are taking the time to warn people that Keebler Townhouse Bistro Multi Grain crackers are most deserving of their score of 2.
What we really need is a system called OldVal. Gather up a big list of foods, how about everything you find in the grocery store, and then for each traditional culture that has eaten that food in the past give it +10 points. Sure, that means that cannibalism will get a decent score, but it still makes more sense than basing everything on science that is readily disproven.