Even though my little boys frequently beg for Starbucks' breakfast offerings, buying baked goods at coffee shops and grocery stores has been problematic since I started revamping my family's diet to include higher-quality nutrition with a modest budget.
I usually end up baking my own treats, as the coffee cakes and oatmeal cookies and banana breads commercially available are made with refined flour and a whole host of preservatives and highly-processed ingredients. I've often pointed out how Starbucks breakfast food is better than the fast food alternative; but it's still not a financially sound choice (and the homemade option is not just cheaper, but far healthier). And I stick with a once-a-month treat for the boys, complete with a side helping of sugar guilt for mama.
I can't help but think Starbucks management have been reading my blog posts. (Proof incontrovertible: @starbucks is following me on Twitter. Yes, and also following my six-year-old son's infrequent updates about losing his baby teeth... so what?) Today's news describes how the chain will be revamping 90% of its baked goods menu on June 30 to be "Real Food. Simply Delicious," obviously meant to echo Michael Pollan's exhortations ("Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants," and his reminder that we eat "real food" and not "food-like products").
The new menu, which also will include new salads, will restyle foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and food dyes, and will remove preservatives "where possible." The chain has already removed trans fats from its food and pledged to use milk without hormones. Its banana walnut bread, very berry coffee cake, oatmeal cookie, double chocolate cookies and brownies will all be reformulated.
This is a good thing; but will it encourage me to let my kids eat more often at Starbucks? And will I start eating the baked goods again? Probably not much; it's great to reduce the preservatives but "more like homemade" is still a far cry from "homemade" with my choices -- honey instead of sugar, whole wheat and brown rice flour rather than white, organic, locally-made butter and eggs from our backyard chickens and not the battery-cage variety -- and sugar, high-fructose or not, is still a highly-processed and chemically altered ingredient.
If you are worried about the health of your occasional treats, feel good about this news; if you're worried about the health of your daily breakfast fare, don't. Starbucks baked goods, no matter what their health profile (even if I baked 'em myself, working around the clock to deliver to thousands of Starbucks outlets nationwide), aren't a financially-sound choice for everyday meals. If you must have banana bread, bake it yourself, and enjoy the amazing benefit of being able to revamp your ingredient list weekly.
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