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To the Editor:

Have you reached for a nutrition bar for fast energy support when you felt your get-up-and-go waning but were unable to stop for real food?&bsp; Real food might have included a meal, or a sandwich, and if you didnt care about calories and fats, you might have opted for finger foods, like to-go French fries.

Back in the day, as we say, our easily available options were highly processed candy bars with lots of sugar and fats but not much nutritional value. (And have you noticed that candy bars that we remember from childhood dont taste nearly as good today, or is that just part of our aging, too?)

So, when we reach for an energy bar, what can we expect? The food bar companies are staying up late trying to figure out what we want and what we will buy. Market researchers are checking us out, and they have found that we want meal substitutes and snacks that help us manage numerous health conditions. Of course, as consumers, we represent a variety of markets, which, if well-targeted, could make the difference between a product becoming a household name or a product line nightmare.

The grocery shelves are flooded with food bars that claim to be either high or low in the ingredients or health effects that we say we want or dont want: raw, organic, no processed sugar, whole grains, low glycemic index, low fat, healthy fat, nuts, no nuts, fruit, high protein, balance of carbohydrates and protein, high energy, filling, high antioxidants, and so on.

We are always looking for lunch box stuffers for school age children and pocket stuffers for our adult kids. These are big target markets that will be delineated further as this growing market segment of nutrition and energy bars matures.

The challenge for us as consumers is discerning what the labeling means and if the products are really better for us or just disguised like the wolf on the way to grandmas house. This seems to relate to themes for personal responsibility, self-awareness, and overall health and wellness. &bsp;

We live in caring and health conscious communities with local merchants of natural foods. Our local stores focused on wellness seek to select the best products available, based on manufacturers integrity, quality, and price.

Lets all do our part. Support local merchants and be generous and timely in communicating our feedback. &bsp;

Roulettei&bsp; Gildersleeve