You walk into the grocery store, with a list that seems to be a mile-long in hand. You prepare to face the crowded aisles of others filling their carts to the brim so that they can avoid another trip to the store in the coming days or week. With dreams of a fast-paced grocery run, the shelves upon shelves of product options make the supposedly easy task seem like taking the ACT.
Labels, label, labels!
Who knew there could be so many different types of “farming procedures?” Do you and I need to pay extra, sometimes almost twice the price, for the extra labels? Who are they marketing to with these labels? You and me? Children?
Let’s look at some of these labels and marketing schemes more closely.
This honey from Brazil is USDA Organic, but that’s not the part that sticks out to me. I notice that it is wildflower honey; does this mean that the bees were only allowed to drink the nectar of wildflowers? And how are the bees confined to only the wildflowers, and not a neighboring garden of pristine planted petunias? That sounds a little too good to be true.
This AMAZED me! $2.74 difference between organic peanut butter and non-organic. Being a college student, I think of all of the other places that $2.74 could go; although it doesn’t seem like much, buying only organic items would add up very quickly. Harvard Medical School says that organic foods are not more nutritious than conventionally grown foods. If the two products have the same nutritional value, what’s the point in paying more?
This ham is “natural.” Does that mean that there are pigs that are unnatural? There is also no gluten found in this ham, who would have guessed? There is no gluten found in meat products unless they have a marinade or breading on them, so this is an example of disastrous food packaging.
These shark steaks had to travel quite far to wind up in central Illinois. They are pointing out that the sharks were wild caught and not raised for their meat. Would consumers be opposed to eating sharks raised for meat right here in Illinois? When was the last time anyone ate beef, pork, or chicken that was wild caught and not raised for its meat?
As a dairy farmer, this hurts the most. My family milks our cows, yet I have yet to see anyone milk their soybeans. This soy beverage seems like an ironic food, and the cardboard box packaging isn’t helping it much. Who doesn’t remember the taste of “cardboard milk” from grade school, it was the worst! I for one believe that milk is to be found in the refrigerated section and in glass or plastic bottling.
Here are two different drinks that I picture kids drinking at snack time. The top box says 100% Juice; I think that is what all moms want their children to be drinking. The bottom box says flavored juice drink, which sounds like chemical soup. The juice drink contains high fructose corn syrup and only 2% or less of each concentrated juice.
Now, what little girl wouldn’t want to eat princess soup? Here is a prime example of marketing to the kids. Traveling through the grocery store with a little one in tow is already challenging enough and having them throw a temper tantrum about getting special soup sounds like a battle that isn’t worth the time, or embarrassment.
The packaging on these eggs says that they are straight from the farm to your table, giving consumers a feel-good sense of where their eggs are harvested. The label also mentions that the eggs are “All Natural” and have no chemicals or hormones. This might make you think that these eggs are better than others that don’t label them as hormone free. But as the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association says, “Some egg cartons say that the eggs are hormone free; however, this is true for all eggs in commercial egg production in the United States.”
Here’s a “Paleo Perfect” snack — Brussel Bytes. They happen to be non-GMO, gluten free, vegan, and paleo. Who would have guessed that a veggie-based snack would be both vegan and paleo friendly (Paleo diets include eating a lot of meat)? It’s no wonder these Brussels sprout chips are non-GMO; only 8 GMO crops are commercially available – corn (field and sweet), soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar Beets, papaya, and squash. (Note that Brussels sprouts are not on the list.)
Turkey burgers with 70% less fat than 75% lean ground beef sound like a dieter’s dream. This box happens to have a label from The American Humane Certified™ program. This is a voluntary third party animal welfare audit program that is trying to set standards for the way that food animals are raised in the U.S. This label is confusing because I don’t know what the humane certification requirements are, and how do I know that other farms don’t also follow them?
I and many other consumers make decisions in the grocery store on what to feed ourselves and our families. The number of confusing labels is alarming; I believe that the labeling process should be streamlined so that there is less confusion for shoppers. Especially due to the fact that the FDA does not regulate labeling such as hormone-free, non-GMO, or American Humane Certified. The FDA does regulate organic and gluten free labeling, but do shoppers truly know what those labels mean.