Consumers misled? Naturally!

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In poring over some public opinion and consumer research recently, I concluded that food-buying Americans really love “natural” things.  Organic?  Sure, but not overpowering.  Conventional? You have to explain what that means.

The clear preference for natural is a bit unnerving. That’s because in the world of marketing and food labels, natural means—not much. Several government bodies have tried to develop a standard for it and punted. All such efforts ended in failure. Now organic is different. There are standards and a certification program. Most people who want a so-called natural diet can accomplish that by buying organic, though they should be prepared to spend more.

High fructose corn syrup can be considered natural, and some folks run screaming from the room when they hear “HFCS” so much as whispered.  The truth is, corn sugar, cane sugar and beet sugar are all pretty much the same chemically, though all would fit most definitions of natural. It is the artificial sweeteners that are born in the lab.

Are you healthier by scarfing down a natural Chipotle burrito? In terms of calories, fat and carbs, it’s quite similar to a McDonald’s quarter pounder.  But Chipotle is only too pleased for you to believe otherwise on the basis of a clever Internet cartoon.

The truth is, you can be healthy eating an organic or a lower cost conventionally grown diet—if you choose lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meat, limit sugar intake, take it easy on the carbs and get plenty of exercise.

The rest is political and marketing hype.  Naturally.  What isn’t these days?

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Wyo  |  September, 21, 2013 at 07:45 AM

Yes, consumers are mislead everyday. Perhaps the greatest tragedy occurs with the most harmful misleading..........(nope........not misleading just plain WRONG) dietary information from the USDA Food Pyramid.

SW Okla cotton country. Where the subsidies grow tall...  |  September, 23, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Yup - lets talk about pink slime and misleading the consumer...

SD  |  September, 23, 2013 at 10:36 PM

RickyD, you surely are aware that the smearing of Lean Finely Textured Beef was a blatant attempt to damage a very beneficial beef product by making false claims about it, aren't you? FACT: LFTB is simply the bits of beef muscle meats left in the fat pieces trimmed away when cutting steaks and roasts. It is costly to trim closely enough to save all the meat. By developing a process using a small level of heat and centrifugal force to remove the lean meat from the fat, freezing, grinding, and treating it with an ammoniated gas (which is also used to treat MANY other foods) to assure no e coli is on the meat, an extremely lean hamburger is produced. That very lean BEEF is sold to be mixed with fattier beef to achieve up to 95% lean hamburger, something consumers have demanded. Why would people deliberately try to eliminate that product from our food? It saves an amazing amount of perfectly edible beef from being thrown away.

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