Going crackers: the holiday party wafer guide

It’s nearly that time of year again when you stand around at party after party eating way too much dip and cheese. If you’re organizing your own soiree, make sure you’re not serving up a crispy canape of trouble.


PREMIUM/CARR/RITZ

Carr Table Water Crackers aren’t as processed as others but do bake up a mix of conventional wheat and highly controversial palm oil. Even the certified “sustainable” palm oil that these guys use has been linked to rainforest destruction. Nabisco Premium Saltine crackers use the same wheat with junky genetically modified soybean and cottonseed oils. Ditto for Ritz, which also bakes in GMO-heavy high-fructose corn syrup and starch. Avoid biting into the whole mess by searching out organic saltines or water crackers at health stores.

SCORE: N


GLUTINO

These made-in-Italy crackers look healthy, but they’re sort of the equivalent of trans-fat-free pizza. Just because it’s free of one thing (in this case gluten) doesn’t mean it’s not full of other undesirables. Yes, Glutino makes other products that are non-GMO Project Verified, but none of the company’s crackers qualify. Beyond that, there are conventional eggs in here (not good for your vegan guests) as well as palm oil. The whole-grain version just has some poppyseeds and buckwheat bran sprinkled in. 

SCORE: NN 


RICE THINS/ELCO RICE CRACKERS

Around most dip bowls these days you’re sure to find some sort of rice cracker. You’ll keep gluten-intolerant guests and GMO-haters happy, since most rice crackers are generally free of both. The thing about rice is that 58 per cent of it fails to meet proposed EU arsenic standards for kids. Consumer Reports says kids shouldn’t have more than half a serving a day. But for adult party guests I’m not worried. Both brands are made in the U.S. (while Hot Kid and SuperSlim crisps are made in China). Opt for certified organic rice crackers to ensure that the rice wasn’t grown with chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

SCORE: NNN 


MARY’S

The perfect party cracker to please most sensibilities: it’s 100 per cent certified organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan and Kosher, with no trans fats. The only faction it won’t please? Locavores. (It’s from California.) The base is organic brown rice and quinoa, so, yes, you’re still going to get that trace arsenic naturally present in rice that I was talking about with rice thins. But it’s cut with quinoa, and as long as your kids aren’t eating fistfuls day in and day out, you’re all right. Pairs well with dips, less so with delicate cheeses. This one’s my pick of the week for large parties, since Costco carries giant boxes of ’em for a good price. 

SCORE: NNNN 


EVELYN’S 

The local cracker queen! These tasty farmers’ market snacks (also available at health stores) are all made with certified organic heirloom Ontario-grown Red Fife wheat, spelt and rye as well as local raw honey, biodynamic olive oil and fair trade spices. You’ll want something else on hand for the gluten-averse, since Red Fife is naturally higher in gluten than conventional wheat. These are pricier, so they may not be in your budget for big bashes. You’ll dig the creative flavours like Spicy Dal, Slightly Seedy and Cheddar Crispies.

SCORE: NNNNN

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