Organic and no sugar added? The ongoing search for healthy granola part 5

Here’s a little bias-testing question:  if you had a choice, would you choose a granola that’s organic but made with processed honey, OR one that’s not organic but sweetened with  raw honey?  Why can’t I have both, you ask?  Well, thus far I have yet to find one that satisfies both (though Go Raw, which doesn’t even use honey, is an organic granola that’s only sweetened with dried fruits and nuts).

In my last post, I talked about Ambrosial Granola , a Brooklyn-based granola-maker which represents the pinnacle of the niche in terms of its dedication to using organically-produced ingredients.  This dedication to quality is so devout that it makes me forgive them their one small weakness, which is that while the honey that they use as a sweetener is organic, it is not raw.  I’ve discussed the substantial benefits of using raw honey over pasteurized honey here on my unrefined sugar page; if you want additional resources on the subject, I direct you to the fine offerings at Natural News, World’s Healthiest Foods, and That’s Fit, each of which offers more detailed writings on raw honey.


photo by misone2000, of Flickr

Meanwhile, I finally did find a granola maker which does use raw honey: Udi’s, a Denver-based, gluten-free baker that in addition to gluten-free granola makes bread, bagels, muffins, buns, and cookies that are all gluten-free.  Their granolas include Au Naturel, Cranberry, Vanilla and Original, and each type has no more than nine healthy ingredients (Au Naturel is limited to simply certified gluten-free oats, honey (raw), canola oil and water, and you can hardly get much simpler than that (Go Raw is the only exception I’m aware of).

Here’s the catch, if you consider it one:  Udi’s is not organic.  That’s their weakness.  But, as I can understand that it’s not cost-effective for Ambrosial Granola to currently use raw honey, I can also recognize that it’s not cost-effective for Udi’s to go organic.  In fact, as I was told via email by their customer service coordinator, “there is a very limited supply for organic ingredients and it would get extremely costly” to go organic.  She added that “(we) would love to be able to offer this while still keeping an eye on our consumer’s budget, but it’s just not available at this moment.”  In this economy, how can one argue with that?

Well, there is another angle:  I also emailed with Mark Kastel, of the Cornucopia Institute, the organization that puts together the great resources that are their organic scorecards, including the organic cereal scorecard, which Udi’s rated poorly on because of their not being organic (for reasons mentioned).  In response to my query about the challenges of going organic, Kastel told me via email that “Yes, organic oats cost more…but the percentage is far lower than most other commodities.”  He added that a company that is not currently organic (which I referred to him in the abstract), “can do this if they want to.  They don’t want to.”  I hope he’s wrong, because Udi’s seems like a pretty sound and very well-meaning company.  Their breads are well-liked.  There’s just this niggling organic thing….

Well, more on that to come.  And more granolas?  To be continued as well….