We seem to love standardization: rules make us feel safe. They put order into our disorderly lives. I get that. But what if the people making the rules don't consider all of the relevant information. Uh-oh for us.
That's how I feel about the ANDI score at Whole Foods Market. See ANDI here.
The concept is strong: create a rating system for foods so consumers don't have to think it out, just buy the food with the highest scores. Thankfully, the foods that score highest are vegetables, especially the green leafy ones. But really? People shopping at Whole Foods already get that vegetables are great.
ANDI stands for "Aggregate Nutrient Density Index" which is a sophisticated way of saying "how nutritious this food is". Foods earn a score between 1 and 1000. Not surprisingly, collard greens, kale and watercress score 1000 for maximum nutrient value (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.) Here's the problem: if you rely on this system, you may eschew valuable foods like garbanzo beans which score really low at 55, sunflower seeds (64) and blueberries (132) and end up really hungry, really broke and really nutrient-deprived.
A real meal of steamed greens, garbanzo beans and toasted sesame seeds with a few chopped tomatoes, olive and herbs with blueberries for dessert will satisfy your appetite and offer an alchemy of nutrition that cannot be quantified. Besides, cooking it will engage your senses, fill your home with wonderful aromas and your heart with joy.
In a way that no green shake can do.
Eating "good" food doesn't make you a good person. It might make even make you hangry (hungry + angry).
So don't lean too heavily on labels like the ANDI score to make decisions when choosing your food. Develop and use common sense.