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Eating on the Run

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People are so busy these days on the run with kids, school or work that it's easy to just wolf down whatever is most convenient

People are so busy these days on the run with kids, school or work that it's easy to just wolf down whatever is most convenient. But instead of popping a chocolate bar in your pocket or sugary snacks in your kids' lunchboxes, why not try some healthier alternatives?
Thanks to growing consumer awareness of good nutrition, there are plenty of nutrition-packed products that don't scrimp on taste or convenience. That's because whole foods manufacturers are heeding the demand. David Newman, vice-president of sales and marketing for Nature's Path, an organic foods company, says they're increasing sales at a rate of 30 percent a year without compromising quality for the bottom line.

"We try to produce food the way it was before the industrial revolution, before mass production became the status quo," Newman says. "We don't have investors, Wall Street any of that stuff. We're growing because consumers are realizing there are choices out there."

Instead of reaching for that chocolate bar, opt for a natural fruit bar instead. One hundred per cent fruit bars and leathers are a tasty source of complex carbohydrates that provide energy without all the added sugar, colourings and preservatives.

ReBAR, an Okanagan, BC company, produces an organic, non-genetically modified and unpasteurized fruit bar packed with two cups each of fruit and vegetables. Founder and president Mark Hitchton developed the bar after he became a new dad and realized the importance of good nutrition. He found some startling statistics in his research.

"I was deeply concerned that 75 percent of children don't eat as many fruits and vegetables as outlined by the Canada Food Guide and that 60 percent of North Americans have an obesity problem," he says.

His goal with ReBAR has been to provide high quality nutrition in an organic bar that's tasty enough for everyone to enjoy especially kids. His secret is hiding the taste of the broccoli, kale and other veggies with the natural sweetness of apple and other fruits.

Another fruit bar manufacturer is Kettle Valley Dried Fruit Company, with a plant near the fertile orchards of the Okanagan. The company is ISO-9001/2000 certified, meaning it's internationally recognized as having a stringent quality management system.

Company president John Boot says their fruit bars are "the equivalent of one apple in every bar, or half a cup of fruit." Made with apples from Washington and the Okanagan, all products, which include a line of organic bars, are non-GMO with no preservatives, added sugar, artificial flavours or colours.

Even larger companies are recognizing the value of good nutrition. Sun-Rype, a well- known BC brand, has the Fruit to Go and Energy To Go bars, which are made from fruit pur? and fruit juice concentrates, with no added sugar, colourings or preservatives. They also make the Fruit & Veggie bar, also made of fruit pur?and concentrates with rice crisps and a vegetable blend added.

"Sun-Rype uses fresh apples from the Okanagan Valley in the making of the fruit pur?and snack food products," says Magda Kapp, manager of public relations. "Sun-Rype's quality assurance department is involved at every step of the manufacturing process to ensure that all products are consistent in quality for consumers to enjoy."

OK, so now you're home from work and you've got your feet up on the coffee table with a bowl of nibbles at the ready for watching the hockey game. In place of the usual high-fat, high-sodium chips and dip, you could munch on some Organic Snack Mix by Nature's Path instead.

You could also enjoy some hemp seed nut butter on whole wheat crackers or a bowl of hemp seed nuts, which are as crunchy as corn nuts but much healthier.

"The philosophy behind our products is that they make your body healthy, being the richest source of essential fatty acids and essential amino acids," says Mike Fata, North American sales manager of Fresh Hemp Foods, a Manitoba-based producer of hemp foods and oils. "They make our economy healthy (they're Canadian grown and processed), and they make our ecology healthy because of the various positive environmental impacts from growing hemp seed."

Contrary to commonly held fears, hemp foods are safe for all to eat, containing zero per cent THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical responsible for the "high" effect of marijuana, hemp's plant cousin. All testing of hemp is done by a third-party, Health Canada-approved laboratory.

What you will get with hemp foods is an abundance of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids, all eight essential amino acids, phytosterols (which lower the risk of heart disease), and chlorophyll, an anticarcinogenic. Another bonus: Canada is a top producer of hemp products, courtesy of manufacturers such as Fresh Hemp Foods, Hempola, Ruth's Hemp Foods, Truth North Hemp, Canadian Hemp Corp., the Cool Hemp Company and Purity Hemp.

When in doubt about the quality of your snacks, read the ingredients. Check labels for toll-free consumer numbers or enter the product or company name in your Web search engine for contact information. Companies do listen to what consumers have to say and are more likely to change their products or add new ones according to consumer demand.

With the focus on nutrition at an all-time high, you don't have to sacrifice taste when it comes to eating on the run. These days it's entirely possibly to have taste, convenience and nutrition all in one.

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