Purely Elizabeth — almost perfect whole food energy bars

I picked up a box of 12 Purely Elizabeth peanut butter bars at a Bay Area Grocery Outlet last week. They are marketed as Whole Food Nut + Seed Bars, and the ingredient list verifies this: peanuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower kernels are the top three ingredients and they also contain hemp and chia seeds and almond meal. They are sweetened using coconut sugar and also include coconut in the form of flakes and raw coconut oil. An intriguing ingredient is reishi extract — I was interested to see this because medicinal mushrooms are on my mind these days and I had bought a reishi mushroom supplement recently. Almost all of the ingredients are organic.

Buying them by the box directly from Purely Elizabeth, they work out at $2.29 each, while the Grocery Outlet was selling them for $0.50 each.

About Purely Elizabeth

I have to admit that I wasn’t really aware of the company until I saw its products at the Grocery Outlet. Purely Elizabeth was founded in Boulder, Colorado, by Elizabeth Stein, who wanted to apply her background in integrative nutrition. This rings true to me as nutritional content does seem to be the main driving force of the products. The company is now over 10 years old and, besides the energy bars, has become popular for its granola, oatmeal, and baking mixes (pancakes, waffles, bread, muffins). I also spotted Purely Elizabeth superfood oatmeal (cranberry & pumpkin seed) at the Grocery Outlet last week.

There are so many bars available these days and yet many of them fall short nutritionally and/or ethically. For example, Kind bars (also available at the Grocery Outlet) are popular because of their image as healthy and kind. However, I evaluated Kind Snacks on the Green Stars Project and rated the company 2/5 Green Stars for a failure to source sustainable ingredients and for a lack of transparency. I’ll get to the ethical rating for Purely Elizabeth in a moment.

Purely Elizabeth bars — would I buy them again?

Totally! I intend to pick these up again on my next trip to the Grocery Outlet. Because of lockdown I’ve found it handy to have some kind of bars around and I could eat Purely Elizabeth bars regularly. I also want to get seeds into my diet as much as possible — seeds are, after all, a complete plant in one tiny package, containing a lot of minerals like zinc that many of us are deficient in.

First impression was that they were very dry but once I got over that, they grew on me, as many healthier foods tend to. Their dryness actually makes them perfect for carrying around since they weigh so little yet contain 230 calories of mainly seeds and nuts — think of them like lembas bread 😉 Their lightness and high energy content makes them pretty much ideal for hiking. I also like snacks that are a little salty, so these fit the bill there — but they are not too salty, with each bar delivering only 6% of your recommended daily sodium. The balance of nutrients is good, with 7 g protein, 3 g fiber and 7 g total sugars (5 g of which is added coconut sugar) per 40 g bar.

Ethical rating for Purely Elizabeth Peanut Butter bar

I do try to avoid packaging as much as possible, so I sometimes make my own bars from ingredients that I’ve bought in bulk. But right now, because of lockdown, most bulk sections are closed and I would have to buy ingredients in individual packages. At some point I’ll write a post about another whole food bar (Liv Bar) that comes in compostable packaging. Meanwhile, here’s my review of Purely Elizabeth bars:

Overall, I think that Purely Elizabeth bars deserve 4.5 Green Stars for social and environmental impact, based on these factors:

  • It’s a certified vegan product.
  • Almost all of the ingredients are organic.
  • Purely Elizabeth (PE) is a woman-owned business.
  • It’s also a certified B Corporation (although their score isn’t high; the company just about qualifies).
  • PE has donated to food banks and local schools.
  • Low-glycemic, nutrient rich foods have many social benefits and also environmental benefits.
  • The company accepted funding from General Mills in 2017 so it’ll be interesting to see if PE maintains its ethical standards (General Mills rates poorly). I hope they do but I noticed that PE used to be a member of 1% for the Planet but it looks like this has been dropped now. Also, the Mission and Values page on PE’s website is also no longer available.
  • Room for improvement: a compostable wrapper. Also, it’s about time that the company started reporting on corporate responsibility (carbon footprint, etc.).

Summary scores (out of 5) for Purely Elizabeth peanut butter bars:

  • 4.5 gold stars for quality and value
  • 4.5 green stars for social and environmental impact

For more articles on ethical items that I’ve bought on sale at the Grocery Outlet, please check out Ethical Bargains.

Originally published at http://ethicalbargains.org on November 9, 2020.

User-generated ratings for ethical consumerism. Mission: to encourage consideration of the social and environmental impact of our choices as consumers.

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