Thursday, November 15, 2007

What happened to all the "low-carb products"?

Here's a post I made today on forum. Some one posted the following question:

A couple years ago almost all the stores in my area had low carb sections, now none of them do and restaurants use to have low carb menu's. Now it is extremely difficult to find low carb products anywhere. I just can't figure out what happened.

Welcome, [member name]! That's an excellent question. What happened? Here's my theory.

Low-carb living is not compatible with the economy of highly refined, processed-foods that the Big Food (General Mills, Hershey, etc.) companies are based on.

By their very nature, foods high in sugar and starch allow a high profit margin. In fact, the more advertising and marketing dollars a food gets, the cheaper the actual food substance for the producer. That's a pretty reliable rule of thumb.

Fat is more expensive than sugar and starch. It costs more to produce, ship, etc. Protein is the most expensive of the three macronutrients. Don't believe it? Compare the cost of the cheapest sack of sugar, the cheapest sack of flour, the cheapest jug of oil and the cheapest carton of protein powder.

Big food is based on adding "value" -- or, at least, appeal -- to cheap ingredients. Slicing and frying potatos, baking flour, stirring sugar into colored water and so forth. it's possible to add fat to starch- and sugar-based foods and still keep them cheap and yummy.

But, subtract carbs from the equation, and cheap processed food is no longer possible. All that's left is protein and fat. Low-carb products are of necessity more expensive than high-carb products. They HAVE to be. The reason: low-carb INGREDIENTS are more expensive than carbs.

Companies that were in it for a quick buck couldn't make it. Others are still plugging away in their niche market, providing an ever-expanding variety of specialty products. Check out, the partner-providers of this site, and you'll see what I mean.

I think that most low-carbers learn quickly that low-carbing means learning to prepare and enjoy more whole foods than most carb-bound Americans do. The spectrum of processed products is just too narrow and expensive to rely on the same way that carb products allows.

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