With COVID-19 we are asked to limit trips to the grocery store and to only touch the products we need. I am more than happy to oblige.
Even without COVID when I’m at the grocery store I want to get in and out ASAP. Before I go I make a list and coordinated it with the store layout. Items are on my list according to aisle starting at the produce section on the left side of the store and ending in dairy on the right side of the store.
With COVID, the thing keeping me from getting out as quickly as I would like is that the brands I typically purchase are out of stock and I have to choose new brands. With new brands comes the question: is the labeling accurate?
A very frustrating truth is that some organizations practice misleading advertising. So the “100% apple juice” you are buying could actually be made of concentrate, fructose syrup and a bunch of other preservatives. It took me a few tries before I could find a 100% cranberry juice that listed cranberry juice as the only ingredient.
I saw this a few times today. While I would love to just quickly read the front of the label and trust what it says, I know better. I know that a lot of labels are inaccurate and for marketing purposes only. I know I need to read the ingredient list in order to know what I will actually be consuming. Whether done unintentionally or on purpose, companies need to be held accountable for their labeling practices. They need to label their products appropriately or edit their product so the label is correct.
How can we change this?
- Find trusted brands: Once COVID-19 is behind us grocery stores will be stocked again and we will be able to find our trusted brands. By trusted brands I mean a brand that you trust to have accurate labeling. Look at the ingredients in the items you buy and see what other additives are in there. If it says 100% of something but there are several ingredients something may not be right. While it may take some time at first, once you find your trusted brands your shopping trip will speed up. Please note, your parents’ or friends’ trusted brand does not need to be your trusted brand.
- Spread the word: Let others know that words like “natural” and “pure” are not regulated. Even words that are regulated are regulated very loosely. If you see a friend buying something labeled as “all natural” but you notice it is loaded with artificial sweeteners let them know. Something like – “Hey, I saw you are using ABC, I used to use that stuff but then I found out they put a lot of added fructose in there and it’s actually really unhealthy” – will do the trick.
- Remember that the onus is on you as a consumer. We need to hold companies accountable. If we stop purchasing mislabeled items they will get the message. As a consumer where we spend our money says a lot.
- Practice quality over quantity or price. Sometimes products that do not include additives cost more money. It is up to you to decide how you would like to spend your money. Keep in mind the benefits of quality over quantity like the fact that the 100% cranberry juice is more expensive but it is very strong so I dilute it with water and actually get a lot more than I would with the other stuff.
- Become familiar with preservatives. Some items need to contain preservative(s) to keep from going bad. For example, canned fruits typically come with citric acid which is added and used as a preservative. You do not need to be an expert, but it will be beneficial to understand preservatives and if they are added to foods you commonly eat. There seems to be different opinions on preservatives so I will leave the google searching up to you on this one.
We need to hold companies accountable for their marketing tactics and unethical practices. Checking labels can feel tedious but once you do it a few times it will get easier. Do it for you. Do it for your health.
Do you think my coordinated shopping list is anal & weird or innovative 🤷♀️?