About two weeks ago, I went out to the supermarket for a bigger shop to add onto my usual weekly farmers market visit. I needed to stock up on some pantry essentials and I also needed some extras that aren’t staples, but handy. You know, some fast snacks to have on stand by, for when we need to dash out of the house and throw something in a bag. Heading into the supermarket these days isn’t the same as it once was, and I got a funny stare the other day as I was hanging around reading the label of a granola type bar that I thought could work as our grab-and-go snack. Someone behind me was trying to distance themselves from me, but also wanted what was on the shelf right in front of me. Cue the physically distanced dance! As I stood there reading the fine print seeing her out of the corner of my eye, I stopped reading, stepped aside with my box of bars, let them grab what they needed, and I carried on reading. It’s what I do.
The first place I look, and I’d guess most of you do too… is the front of a box or package. Marketers and those who spend months crafting the colour, the copy, where each aspect of the label ends up want to catch your eye because that package right next to what you’re looking at is likely an ingredient or two different to the product that’s in your hand. So what grabs your attention? Maybe it says natural… maybe it says wholegrain… organic gets my attention as well as low sugar.
In the age of careful claim marketing, what should we believe as we scan the aisles looking for something to feed ourselves and our family that make you feel good about what you’re putting on the table? What if it says that it’s good for your brain–as in orange juice with added DHA? Or how about zinc added to your morning glass of machine squeezed, pasteurized (AKA heated to keep you safe from bad bacteria but also kills the vitamin C in it) juice? Yep, gone is that vital vitamin, which is likely why you’re drinking it in the first place.
Sigh… This is when our heads start to spin. When you read a label and like the sound of it, but then question it… are you being sold to…? did the company spend thousands hiring the best marketing team to come up with a label seem more appealing than the competition? And of course the million dollar question… is that health claim really true?
Today on EAT THIS with Lianne, a discussion with Dana McCauley, a veteran in the food industry. And I have questions about health claims on labels, the influence of food labels and where we are at with food innovation in the midst of COVID.