Gluten Free, Paleo, Dairy Free, Low Fat, Fat Free, Low Carb, Healthy…Stop the food marketing insanity!!!
It’s maddening. Food manufacturers and recipe writers/bloggers have gone crazy. There is a marketing disaster going on right now that will make anyone insane. We as a society are so obsessed with food, weight and health that we have lost complete sight of how to really eat and the powers that be have latched on to it. They see an opportunity to exploit people who are vulnerable and make a huge profit off of it. And guess what?? We are buying into it. We are part of the problem.
First of all, let’s talk about allergies versus choices. There is a huge difference between people who legitimately get ill because of eating something and those who choose not to eat something for either health, political or social reasons. It is fantastic that many options exist for people with allergies and that these are clearly labelled on products. That being said, a lot of it is complete nonsense, like slapping a “gluten free” label on a rib eye steak that has no marinade on it. It presumes people are uneducated, don’t know how to read labels and don’t know how to eat. And that pisses me off.
One example of preying on the lack of knowledge of consumers is coffee distributors slapping the term “100% Arabica Beans” on a label for coffee. For the record, there are two kinds of beans, Arabica and Robusta. However, Robusta is never used to make commercial coffee, it is only used in the local markets where it is grown in Africa. This misleads consumers into thinking that somehow what they are getting is better or of higher quality when in fact, it is the norm. Nothing special or better about it.
It all started last week when I saw a recipe posted for Paleo Gluten Free Hollandaise Sauce. I started thinking about it and the more I did the more annoyed I got. Let me state that Hollandaise, if made from scratch with butter from GRASS FED cows, is ALWAYS paleo and gluten free. Unless you are getting your Hollandaise in a pre-packaged or processed little bag or container or making it with really low quality store bought butter, the only ingredients should be high quality butter, egg yolks, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper. That’s it. Using terms like “paleo” or “gluten free” is creating marketing hype where it doesn’t belong. I will note that some on paleo diets also limit dairy completely and therefore don’t eat any butter, but there is common ground on the fact that butter is actually very beneficial in a paleo diet, particularly if it is clarified and you are using good organic grass fed butter. But I digress. The point is, slapping a catch phrase on something simply to get people’s attention is wrong. It draws attention away from legitimate labeling to avoid allergic reactions and it makes people think there is something healthier or somehow better about the product at hand.
Look, I get that it’s hard. I get that there is almost too much information out there and it changes constantly. But this is your body. What you put in it should be as important as what kind of car you drive or the latest I Phone 5. I’d argue more so. People do their homework on their purchases when it comes to all kinds of things, but when it comes to food, they seem incapable of seeing past the marketing fog. Don’t let catch phrases fool you into thinking something is good for you. Be your own advocate. Make educated decisions based upon what you need for your body, not what Coca Cola or Kraft wants to sell you because they think if they slap the word “healthy” or “gluten free” on it you’ll buy it. You’re putting the power in the hands of the big corporations with all the money rather than in your own hands.
The food lobby in this country is one of the largest in our government. Their sole purpose in life is to sell products and make money, often at any expense. And unfortunately the government goes along with it because the campaigns of many are financed by these corporations. They don’t care about the long term potential effects on consumers. They care about the here and now and about the money. And we let it happen. Money talks. Put your dollars where it matters and buy conscientiously. It’s time for us to take control back over our bodies and our consumption and the best way to do it is to be educated and to redirect our purchasing.
Stepping off soapbox in 3-2-1. …