Deceptive marketing has become a problem.
A good deal of latitude is allowed in the advertising of food products, despite the efforts of controlling government agencies. This latitude gives the consumer a false sense of security which in many instances falls into the category of deceptive marketing. We discussed the ingredient list in Commandment #1, but in this Commandment we are going to consider food advertising. We will consider:
- Do we really understand what we are reading?
- What labels can we trust?
- What does each label or designation really mean?
- How do I find better, affordable options?
Commandment #3 from the 10 Commandments states:
Watch out for deceptive marketing!
Buy wild/grass fed/pasture raised when shopping for fish, meat and eggs. Be cautious when seeing words such as “fresh”, “all natural”, “no antibiotics” and “sustainable”. They sound like just what you think you want to hear. However, sustainable and wild-caught fish aren’t the same. Grass fed is different from grass fed start-to-finish. Cage-free eggs are not the same as pastured eggs. And “all natural” has virtually no meaning whatsoever.
As a whole, society has begun scrutinize food labels and ingredients more carefully. Because of this, marketing specialists have started making it more and more difficult to asses true nutritional value. Aside from the examples given above, we have the historical all time favorites: low-fat, no fat, sugar-free and “lite”. Simply adding these labels to packages, large consumer-driven companies have started tricking us into thinking we are buying healthier foods. For example, the label “sugar free” doesn’t mean that there are no sweeteners. It just means there is no cane sugar. To make matters worse, such products often have something added that is far more harmful than regular sugar (for example, artificial sweeteners). Your body will not recognize aspartame as anything but a chemical.
Do we really understand what we are reading?
You can almost guarantee that if a product is coming from a large farm industry company, then claims on their packaging are simply there to make you think they have changed things. Learn about the companies you are buying products from. A really great, non-biased source is food babe. This blogger gets into the nitty gritty with each company that states they have changed their practices and exposes the real truths if they are practicing deceptive marketing. Here’s what you can do when you pick up an item in the supermarket:
- The first step is to look for non-GMO and organic. That label is strictly regulated and not everyone can use that label (see Commandment #2). They have to meet all the standards and it takes up to 5 years of clean practice for a farm to earn that organic label. That is the best we have right now.
- Processed packaged goods will have an ingredient list. Check the label for sneaky ingredients; here is a list of things that are passed off as “all natural”.
- Stay clear of all artificial sweeteners and additives; here is a list of artificial sweeteners.
- Find the best stores or online markets in your area that are following clean guidelines for curating their stores. This will make it much easier for you to buy most of your groceries in one place.
What labels can we trust?
The very best thing to do for you and your family is to buy food that doesn’t come with one of the deceptive marketing labels. Look for the organic/non-GMO label as well as anything that is certified Paleo. At I Am a Clean Eater, we don’t recommend any specific diet, but the certified paleo label has a very strict process for becoming certified. The paleo designation means the food product has to meet several high standards. The best label for meat, dairy, and eggs is “Pasture Raised”. This designation represents the most natural way animals can be raised.
Although you probably have not given it much thought, not all animals are vegetarian. This means that some animals (e.g., chickens) are omnivores, they eat both plants and meat (bugs, etc). When reading a label for chicken or eggs, if the manufacture puts on the label “100% vegetarian fed”, this is NOT a good thing. Chickens are supposed to eat grass, bugs, and worms, not corn and soy. The same goes for animals that might be vegetarian such as cows and cattle. Corn and soy are not their natural food source.
What does each label or designation really mean?
“All-natural” means that all of the ingredients in the package are natural. However, those ingredients can still be heavily processed. It is much better to buy an a product that says “all organic ingredients”. “All natural” has become one of the biggest offenders in the deceptive marketing campaign.
“Vegetarian fed” means that the animal was fed only a plant based diet, primarily this will mean corn and soy.
“Low-fat” or “non-fat” means the item will not contain any natural fats. It can still contain heavily processed vegetable oils such as corn, canola, soybean, sunflower, or safflower oil. These oils can be highly inflammatory as they contain high levels of omega-6.
“Gluten-free” means that the item will contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten (barley, rye, wheat). It doesn’t, however, mean that it is healthy. The manufacturer removed the gluten-containing ingredients and has created a product with other fillers such as brown rice flour, white rice flour, potato starch etc. None of these filler items will provide any nutritional value.
“Grass-fed” means that the animal ate grass at some point during it’s lifetime. What’s deceptive about this is that the animal most likely was fed corn and soy in it’s last few months to fatten them up. Grass-fed AND grass-finished is the only way to ensure that the animal never ate grains.
How do I find better, affordable options?
These two questions can be answered together because the simple answer is to shop locally, find a local co-op or CSA (https://www.localharvest.org/csa/) and cut out the middleman. This will save a lot of money in the long run and you can trust the source you are buying from.
At I am a Clean Eater, we do not want to tell you what lifestyle eating plan you should be on. We only want to help support you wherever you are on your journey. The message is about understanding what’s at the end of your fork and making the best and most informed decisions for yourself!
If you would like more information about clean eating, CLICK HERE to visit our YouTube channel. While there, be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with all our new videos.
For more information on this commandment, watch this video: