Attachment by Lois Alcosser: What’s organic inulin?

When you need a good book and the library’s closed, consider reading the stuff printed on food packages. Manufacturers are following the rules and telling us how much fat, sugar and salt we’re buying, and we’ve learned that 0% trans fat can mean 30% sugar. But we have to wise up to the fact that the way food looks on the box cover is usually quite different from what you’ll find inside. There are no regulations for that.
Manufacturers believe that old saw “a picture is worth a thousand words.” There’s a very tasty-looking picture on a box of Organic Multigrain Cereal Bars that practically flies off the box. Tiny type reads: “Enlarged to show texture.” Try putting an actual cereal bar next to the picture. You’ll have to search for the texture, which turns out to be a few pale, dry seeds.
The cereal bars are packed with nutrition. There are 26 ingredients and the word “organic” is listed 16 times, including organic inulin. (Google it.) Would we toss those cereal bars into our supermarket basket so gleefully if there was an actual photograph on the box?
I have discovered some real treasures in the health food section of Stop & Shop. There’s a chocolate-covered tofutti bar with a picture of a bride and groom on the box called Marion Nous. One side of the box is in French. Marion Nous is the name of a grand group of bridal salons. Does it signify that the chocolate and the tofutti are as good as married? There’s a creamy chocolate pudding made with almond milk. The brand name is zen. Does this suggest an existential effect after eating?
The choice of complete frozen meals is incredible. The photographs on the box covers in the health food freezers are like the covers of Bon Appetit. In real life, can food ever look this perfect? Someone scientific could decide to spend the year eating each one of these dinners to see if they’re as good as they look.
Yes, they’re processed food. Yes, they’re probably loaded with sodium.  But nowadays, thawing is home cooking. We’re told to ignore time-saving foods and get back to real, local broccoli and our own stoves. Will a trend to home-cooked foods from scratch eventually eliminate packaged food? Or will we continue to be seduced by those mouth-watering pictures and the reading material on the boxes?