Pom - Wonderful?
The health benefits of pomegranates are something like folk wisdom outside of the Western world, and like green tea, are only starting to seep into the American consumer's consciousness. Not only are pomegranate-derived juices very popular, but the flavor is showing up in weird places, like yogurt. You know a flavor has made it once it's enshrined in yogurt.
Anyway, because the pomegranate is SO popular with everyone right now, I have to raise my objections over the company that really got the craze going. POM Wonderful, with their snazzy bottles and their brilliant marketing and their Oprah endorsement, found a way to turn acres of unwanted fruit trees into a massive trend. And bully for them. But I'm not buying it.
Well, I'm not buying POM Wonderful. Here's why:
- It's just too expensive for what you get out of it. The POM Wonderful at my local Safeway sells for $4.50 for a 16 oz bottle. Custom bottles means a higher cost. Nice advertising means higher costs. I've noticed that POM changed their packaging from their distinctive glass bottles to distinctive plastic bottles. You may or may not know how I feel about that already.
- Although POM claims now that neither they nor any of their subsidiaries conduct animal testing, all of their health claims (see below) were based on animal testing that they paid for. While I like pomegranate juice, I don't like the way POM went about makreting the product using all sorts of health claims about it - health claims that were taken from their OWN studies. It reminds me of that Kentucky Fried Chicken poster that explained how KFC can be a healthy part of a balanced diet. Sure, pomegranates are better for you than fried chicken, but doesn't it seem cynical that the company that is finding all these benefits is the same company that stands to make so much money from people believing in the benefits?
- POM's juice cocktails contain more juices than just pomegranate, blueberry, and cherry. (POM does make pure pomegrante juice as well)Although the cocktails are pretty darn tasty, they're still getting away with giving you less pomegranate for your money. POM Wonderful's Pomegranate Cherry juice contains: pomegranate, cherry, apple, pineapple, plum, and aronia juices.
Here are my preferred alternatives:
- Knudsen makes a variety of pure juices, one of which is pomegranate. That's pure pomegranate juice, with no other juices added. This was going to be my end-all solution to the issue of pomegranate juice, but this stuff is almost as expensive as POM. I swear that, a couple of years ago, it didn't cost as much - so I look for it on sale. When it goes on sale, it's maybe 70% the cost of POM Wonderful. I almost never see POM Wonderful on sale, but that might be because it's very popular here.
- Trader Joe's sells organic, pure pomegrante juice at HALF the price of POM Wonderful - about $4 for 32 fl oz. Trader Joe's the solution to many of my frugal problems, but unfortunately, isn't a solution for people who live outside of metropolitan areas. Trader Joe's also does a nice variety of other juices - I like aronia and cherry.
- I don't drink pure juice anymore - I like to cut it with soda water. It makes the juice go further, and I can reduce my caloric intake without sacrificing a tasty treat. Pure juice sugars are absorbed much more quickly by your blood stream than the sugars from, say, raw fruit because juices don't have nearly the amount of fiber to slow down the sugar absorbtion. A 16 oz bottle of pomegranate juice has roughly 300 calories - that's a lot, especially for something that doesn't really satisfy hunger or anything.
(Photo by kowabungat)