A Guide to Organic Snacks: Are They ‘healthier?’

TheSkinny: Today we’re talking about organic snacks—and by “snacks,” we don’t mean the truly healthy kind (a handful of nuts, carrots and hummus, etc.), but the snacks we all crave: The crunchy kind in boxes and bags that are staples at barbecues, picnics, and on your couch.

When choosing organic snacks, the first consideration is the incorrect assumption that anything labeled organic is, by nature, “healthy.” While it is from 2016, we liked this list from Eat This, Not That! outlining their picks for the 15 worst organic snacks. Aside from the list of products, it includes helpful information about what to look for, and tips such as: If you’re going to eat crackers, eat them with fiber or protein to slow absorption of carbs. Or, instead of buying a syrupy fruit yogurt, opt for plain yogurt and add berries.

Next, look at the ingredients. Organic snacks will likely have few to no artificial ingredients. And in general, wouldn’t you rather have “turmeric powder fingers” than “Cheeto hands?” And for a deep dive into organic ingredients and their benefit to the environment, this Mayo Clinic article has lots of answers.

Then, compare the nutrition label. Let’s look at Fritos, as an example. We’re fans, in general, due to their iconic taste and simple ingredient list: Corn, oil salt. But today we’ll compare Fritos Bar-B-Q (which, we just found out…was discontinued in 2018, but is now back for a limited time and available only at Dollar General Stores) and RW Garcia Organic Bar-B-Q Corn Chips.

Per serving, RW Garcia’s version has considerably less sodium (130mg vs. 300mg, despite the RW Garcia larger serving size), more fiber (2g vs. 1g), 6% RDV potassium, and 2% RDV iron (vs. 0% for Fritos). Both were relatively comparable in carbs, calories and saturated fats. RW Garcia was slightly lower in calories and saturated fats, but Fritos had slightly lower carbs. (Side note: Speaking of fiber, check out the high fiber in Beanitos, above!)

Both are delicious but based on the above data…we’ll take RW Garcia.

Net: Some organic snacks may in fact be “healthier” than non-organic, if you’re defining that as having more nutrients, less sodium and saturated fat, etc. However, they’re also likely to be more expensive (in the case of Fritos Bar-B-Q vs. Fritos gives you 1oz more chips for the same price).

While eating all these chips, we also wondered: What can we do with the bits and pieces at the bottom of the bag, which make us sad to throw out, and guilty for pouring into our mouth? The Washington Post has tons of creative recipes for crumbs from pretzels and the three main types of chips (tortilla, pita, potato). And look to your favorite organic snack brand for their own recipes—we liked the looks of RW Garcia’s sweet potato crusted shrimp.
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