More and more consumers are perusing the aisles of the grocery store in search of both more responsible and more healthful food choices. And while new found interest is certainly a good thing, it’s also motivation for food manufacturers to attempt to meet consumer demands without actually changing their products. Though terms like “sustainable” and “natural” have been gracing labels for a while now, the latest adjective which attempts to deceive consumers is the word artisan as reported on Natural News and on USA Today.
Instead of changing food ingredients to meet consumer demand for healthier, lower impact food products, many food manufacturers simply add pretty adjectives to their food packaging. USA Today reports that more than 800 new food products have added the word "artisan" to their packaging as reported by researcher Datamonitor.
Artisan the New Natural
"The word artisan suggests that the product is less likely to be mass-produced," says Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director at Datamonitor to USA Today. "It also suggests the product may be less processed and perhaps better tasting and maybe even be better for you."
In Cornucopia’s recent report, Cereal Crimes, the organic watchdog group outlines the varying corporate definitions of the term “natural” and consumer confusion around making good choices. "Kashi® and Bear Naked®, for example, both owned by Kellogg Company, would likely be uncomfortable sharing with their customers that their “natural” foods may contain hexane-extracted and genetically engineered soy ingredients."
The reasoning behind behind using these descriptions, no matter what they are, is the same: to garner higher profits without upping the cost of ingredients. Peace Cereal was formerly organic but switched to conventional in 2008. The company still claims to be free of pesticides but with no USDA certification. Especially when they were once certified, how can consumers be assured that the product is actually pesticide-free? And what's more, according to Cornucopia, Peace Cereal is often confused with organic cereal in the bulk bins at the grocery store and even labeled as organic, or placed alongside organic cereal confusing consumers.
Natural News reports:
Artisan appears to be evolving into the new "natural," which is another overused marketing term that no longer has any definitive meaning. Just like these phony "artisan" products, many "natural" food products are no different than conventional food products, except for the fact that they often have "greener" packaging and are sold at a premium price.
Arm Yourself Against False Advertising
In the end it’s about reading ingredient labels, not just packaging. If you want to ensure that your prepackaged foods don’t include herbicides, pesticides, fumigants, and genetically modified ingredients, first look for the USDA certification. Then, look beyond the calories and fat to the ingredients list. By reading ingredients we can arm ourselves against manufacturers looking to garner a higher profit without using ingredients that deserve the price.
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