Oh marketing – you are all about perception aren’t you? And there are so many ways perception impacts consumers, especially in regards to health and well-being. Often times I feel cheated and mislead by marketing and advertising gimmicks. Sometimes they downright frustrate me!
For example, the other day my mom, bless her, decided to go out and buy some store-bought hummus for yours truly. I know how to make home-made hummus, but with time always being an issue for me, I sometimes opt to buy a store-bought version with the least harmful ingredients as possible. Knowing that I lean towards all-natural bio-available (bio-available meaning found in nature) ingredients, she buys what she feels is the healthiest brand the store has to offer. As I read the ingredients, many of which I couldn’t pronounce, I realize that marketing played a huge manipulative role in her purchasing decision. She opted for a brand whose name shall not be mentioned, but it had the words “fresh” and “market” in the name.
I was grateful to my dear old mum for thinking of me and going out of her way to purchase one of my favorite snacks, but I was frustrated as well. My mom was duped! And I don’t like it when people mess with mai momma. It was this experience which incited me to write this little health-conscious article.
Clever Marketing Ploys Which Deceive Consumers
Coming back to the first statement, marketing is all about perception. People have a perception of words like gluten-free, free-range, no added sugar and so on, and this perception motivates purchases.
In an attempt to overturn some of these concepts so as to ensure educated purchasing decisions, I have done a little digging and came up with some pretty common slogans, features, and benefits often found on perceived “healthy” store items. I say perceived because there is more to these phrases than what meets the eye.
Made with Organic “fill in the blank”
Just because the label says “made with organic” whatever, doesn’t mean that the whole product is organic. For example, a package of hummus may have on the label “made with organic chickpeas.” This does NOT mean the product as a whole is organic.
Did you know that Federal Law prohibits the use of hormones in poultry and pigs? And yet, it is still used on labels to help jack up prices and give consumers the perception that they are buying healthy.
On a side note, all meat has hormones…just like all people have hormones. In short, don’t waste your money on hormone-free meat – first of all, all meat has natural hormones, and secondly, it is just a gimmick to increase prices.
Another common phrase is “no hormones added.” Oh marketing – is there no end to your seductive ways? We see lots of different meats with this label, but just because it is hormone-free doesn’t mean that it is free-range. It could be that your “hormone-free” chicken lived its short inhumane life cramped in a cage. It could have been ill also. That’s perception for ya!
Unlike the term “USDA Organic,” which can only be applied to foods that meet exacting guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the use of the term “free-range” is less strict. Any chickens that have regular access to an outdoor area — a patch of cement or a small, fenced gravel yard — can be called free-range. Even if a bird gets just five minutes of outdoor time a day, she qualifies as a free-range chicken. – Excerpt from Greenliving.about.com
I was talking with a friend the other day who was frequenting one of our local farmer markets here in Springfield, and at one stand they claimed to be selling gluten-free chicken and beef. I about died laughing. I mean, whatttt? That’s like saying “Bananas made with 100% fruit” or “meat-free lemons.” Gimme a break!
Oh, and on a side note, a recently published study in the journal Digestion found that 86 percent of individuals who believed they were gluten sensitive could tolerate it. Granted, there are those with celiac disease, a hereditary autoimmune condition that affects about 3 million Americans, and they must avoid gluten along with those who have wheat allergies. In short, those with gluten sensitivity, a condition that affects 6 percent of the population (18 million individuals), should avoid gluten, but the rest of us are fine. Again, perception tells us that gluten is bad. Yes, to some people, but not to all.
“Fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet; they also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. Fats as part of a meal slow down absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry.
In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes.” Straight from the hands of Dr. Mary Enig, PhD, and Sally Fallon, authors of Eat Fat, Lose Fat and Nourishing Traditions
We actually need fat for our bodies to function optimally… the key is to use all-natural fats as opposed to trans-fats or hydrogenated fats.
As our bodies need natural fat, it also needs NATURAL sugar….and no, I am not talking about table sugar. Often, when a product boasts it is sugar-free, it is probably adding unnatural sweeteners or natural sweeteners to add sweetness to the product. Don’t get me started on how eating products with this label may not be in your highest interest.
I have been rambling on for some time now because this is a topic close to my heart. I have a simple philosophy to staying healthy: if it is a whole food found in nature, my body can digest and absorb it…unless I have an allergy to it or if it’s poisonous, in which case my body can absorb it but to my own detriment. This is my cheat-sheet for keeping my girlish figure.
Do I eat out? Yes. Have I gotten into my daughter’s Halloween candy (a food NOT found in nature)? Of course! Will I do it again? You betcha.
The key here is to eat consciously. Organic biscuits and vitamin-fortified cereal are two examples of marketing gimmicks that trick you into thinking you are eating healthy. If you are going to eat that slice of pizza, or indulge yourself with ice cream, go for it! Just be sure to include more all-natural foods (the kind found in nature) as a main part of your diet, and you will be good. Wishing you a healthy and happy day.