As I was online holiday shopping, I came across several “edible” gifts that made my head want to explode. These are gifts that I now refuse to buy or eat for that matter. There’s no way that I’m going to send unhealthy, disease-promoting gifts to people that I care about. There’s nothing that I value more than my health and the health of my friends and family. After seeing all the advertisements and mall kiosks for this junk, I knew I had to write about these so called “gifts.”
Now, please don’t call me a scrooge or yell “ba humbug” at me for sharing this info…I’m only the messenger!
Holiday Gifts That I’m NEVER Buying (…again)
I’m embarrassed to say that several years ago I used to buy gift baskets from Mrs. Fields Cookies for some special occasions and as holiday gifts. My college girlfriends even would send me them during hard times like when I had a romantic breakup or before exams. As much as I love cookies, once I found out the truth I never spent another dime on their products. I got the complete list of ingredients in their holiday gift baskets and let me tell you, they are filled with ingredients that let’s just say, Santa would call really naughty!
Mrs. Fields Holiday Gift Baskets make the NAUGHTY LIST!
- Partially Hydrogenated Oils – Mrs. Fields uses margarine and partially hydrogenated oils as a substitute for real butter in their cookies. While their cookies contain some butter, partially hydrogenated oils take a front seat as one of their main ingredients. These oils are the primary source of artificial trans fat in our diet, which have been shown to increase “bad” cholesterol and decrease “good” cholesterol, leading to heart disease. As reported in Scientific American, “It took decades for scientists to realize how deadly trans fats could be, partly because the food industry and the cardiovascular prevention community dismissed concerns over adverse effects on health, but the evidence continued to mount”. Finally in 2013, the FDA tentatively determined that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) due to these health concerns, so no one should be eating these oils – even during the holidays!
- Mono & Diglycerides – This is another (somewhat sneaky) source of harmful trans fat.
- Soybean Oil – This oil is heavily processed and almost always extracted with the neurotoxin hexane, a cheap byproduct from gasoline production. It’s also high in omega-6 fatty acids (which the American diet is too full of) increasing the risk of inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – Your body doesn’t process HFCS the same as regular sugar (sucrose), and excessive high fructose corn syrup consumption has been shown to increase the risk of developing diabetes.
- Enriched Bleached Flour – This is the worst type of flour because it’s been stripped of fiber and nutrients, and comes from a heavily hybridized wheat crop, which may have been pre-harvested with Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
- Parabens – Mrs. Fields cut-out frosted holiday cookies include methylparaben and propylparaben as ingredients. You may have heard about these ingredients in cosmetics, shampoo and lotions, but not realize they are in food too. Parabens have been found to be endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are linked to breast cancer (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4), and reproductive problems. This ingredient made the EWG’s top 12 dirty dozen food additives – which means it’s one of the worst food additives in existence!
- Genetically Modified Ingredients? – Several of the ingredients used by Mrs. Fields typically come from genetically modified (GMO) crops. When we called Mrs. Fields customer service and asked whether they use any GMO ingredients, the agent did not seem to understand what we were asking. They have not responded to email requests. I will update you here when (and if) they respond. These ingredients are often derived from GMOs and can be found in Mrs. Fields holiday gifts: Sugar, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soybean Oil, Mono & Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Citric Acid, Cornstarch, Canola Oil, Fructose, Xanthan Gum, Cottonseed Oil, Glycerin, Food Starch.
Don’t give the “Gift” of junk food.
Other holiday food gifts, like the ones by Hickory Farms are just as bad. Their “Signature Beef Summer Sausage” is made from non-organic beef that was likely raised on growth hormones and antibiotics, and cured with sodium nitrite which has been shown to create cancer causing nitrosamines. Their “Turkey Summer Sausage” takes it a step further with the addition of hydrolyzed corn protein, a form of hidden MSG. The Hickory Farms “Holiday Treasure Chest” also comes with “Peanut Brittle Popcorn” containing partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat) and high-risk GMO ingredients like corn syrup, cottonseed oil and sugar. When asked if these ingredients are derived from GMO crops, Hickory Farms essentially told us they didn’t know: “To the best of our knowledge none of our products are not genetically modified. However we can not verify whether or not our products are genetically modified”.
Although it’s healthier to give a fruit basket as a gift, keep in mind that most fruit gift baskets are made with fruit that’s not organic. Many “holiday” fruits, like pears, apples, strawberries and cherries are considered the “dirtiest” produce contaminated with pesticide residue. So, always make sure that it’s organic. We called up Edible Arrangements, a fruit basket company, and they said their fruit generally isn’t organic, but each location sources fruit locally and will sometimes have organic produce. The only way to get an organic fruit assortment from Edible Arrangements is by contacting the store that’s making your gift basket and asking them if they have organic fruit available. Some of their baskets, such as the “Peace & Doves Festival” come with fruit dipped in white chocolate that contains partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat). You’d really be better off just creating your own gift basket with organic treats that you pick out yourself. And just an FYI – Harry & David has organic fruit gifts available online too.
Now for the good news, and an alternative worth getting!
I’ve been searching far and wide for the best holiday gift companies and found America’s Best Organics where you can create your own organic gift basket online or choose one of their combinations. I’m really excited about supporting this company because they are all about creating baskets that promote health, wellness and sustainability. Their baskets contain organic products and other eco-friendly items, made by American companies. They clearly list all the ingredients on their website – which isn’t something I generally found when researching other gift basket companies and is very helpful when shopping online.
This is a great present to send to someone you may not see over the holiday season but want to send a gift. They have great vegan, gluten-free and pet baskets as well – and all prices include the shipping cost. My team has worked with this company to bring you a special discount just for the holidays!
Please don’t give toxins and poison to your family and friends this holiday season, pick a gift that promotes health rather than takes it away. If you know someone who could learn from this info, please share it with them! Who knows, maybe they’ll send you an organic gift basket during the holidays!
P.S. Looking for more healthy holiday gift ideas? Be sure to check out the Food Babe Healthy Holiday Specials HERE.