Natural does not automatically mean healthy and healthy does not necessarily mean low calorie. I have said this before - but it always bears repeating. (the abbreviation NE is from data analysis code - it stands for not equal- and I am spending too much time with data!)
About a week ago I saw a press release that announced the the purchasing of a company called Mrs. Mays by Dole Food Co. I did not find that exact story when I searched again today but here is one from the WSJ. In the story I read, the spokesperson for Dole was explaining that this was a perfect fit for the company as it is trying to improve vending options with healthier snacks. Mrs. Mays is known for its natural snack foods. When I read this, I made a note to look up the company, Mrs. Mays, and their products. I did so because I know that natural does not mean natural much of the time and 'healthy' is just as suspect.
I did my looking up today and in fact, I their ingredients hold up pretty well for the natural claim. And ok - I will give them the 'healthy alternative to junk food' claim as well - should we be thinking candy bars and chips. However, they do not get the 'low in calories' kudos. It can be tricky, but the serving size for most of the snacks is less than 1 oz - LESS than. The packages contain a couple of ounces. Some of the items are not loose - i.e. a fruit strip or a bar - and the serving size for those is just over an ounce. Taken this way - the products are very high in energy density - over a hundred calories for an ounce of food?
Mrs. Mays may be a good vending choice, but for me, fresh food continues to give the most bang for the caloric buck - with a high level of nutrients.
If I bookmarked this link correctly, it should open on the nutrient facts panel for one of the products. This package contains 4 ounces and the serving size is just about 1 ounce - that one ounce has 150 calories and I am certain most people would eat half if not all of the package in one sitting. (remember that declaration from some of the FOP labeling discussion. The IOM thought that the package should give total calories if it was expected that the entire package could reasonably be consumed in one sitting)