Wednesday, March 14, 2007

100% Real Food For Thought

"Collecting the Sun" ACEO can be bid on here.

So yesterday I needed to go grocery shopping and on my tour of duty through the grocery store there were some things that struck me as odd. Rather, there were marketing tactics (presumably) that caught my attention.
Generally when one goes to the grocery store they're looking for food, occasionally toiletries and household items, but primarily it's for food. Within the walls of the grocery store one can find produce, meats, canned goods, dry goods, frozen foods and junk food. All of which are edible with some being much tastier than others (ever tried garnishing your spinach with crushed up Doritos? Yum!) Grocery stores also vary in quality from one to the other. Not that a lower price means it's any less edible, it just means it may not be as pretty looking. For me, personally, I find the charm of an oddly shaped red bell pepper rather intriguing. But that's just me.
The companies that produce and sell these food items, and there are many, are all competing for you to buy them. They'll package them in neon boxes, they'll attach coupons for .50 cents off your next $75 purchase (why, how generous!), they'll tout their anti-aging properties in bold lettering and they'll even remind you just what the heck it is the product is made of. It's this last little point that had me scratching my head.

First of all, when I'm in the produce department I assume I'm going to find products of the fruit and veggie nature. I don't expect some renegade box of Kraft dinner to pop up out of the asparagus display. So far, this has been what's happened...although I'm very suspicious of star-fruit and lychee's, tasty though they may be.
It was in the meat department that my confusion began. You see, I was perusing for a nice package of lean ground beef. It's a versatile form of meat that can be used in many a tasty dinner. After only a mere couple of minutes I found it and a sign that provoked all of this. It read:
"Lean ground beef. Made with 100% real beef!"

Well, thanks for clearing that up. What the heck is the other stuff made of that I've been eating? Should my current package of ground beef read "Made with 95% real beef and 5% polystyrene"? When I buy something labelled "ground beef" I assume it's made of beef and nothing else. If they've been sneaking pork in there I don't care...just give me a heads up!

This prompted me to search through the grocery store for other products that were posing with one identity when perhaps they had more. I found several other examples such as tuna (which I don't eat anyway, but I know some of you do). It also had a label with similar wording: "Now made with 100% real tuna!" They're even outright admitting that they used something else prior. I can just see some unsuspecting person going to open their older can of tuna, maybe to make a sandwich, and out pops a troll that says "Surprise! It's only 80% can guess what they rest is!" and then it runs away laughing maniacally.

What has all of this taught me? Not much really. You can bet I'm going to be reading labels more often though and then the other half and I can sit around the dinner table and play the "guess what we're eating tonight" game...but neither one of us will win because we'll never really know. Oh well, as long as it's 100% edible.


Regula Scheifele said...

Hi Rita - your post made me smile and shake my head at the same time. Been there, done that. It's amazing what food companies come up with when preaparing packed food...
One example I'll never understand is butter. Butter is made of milk (or rather cream) and that's it - so whenever there's anything else in there I just don't buy it. And it's amazing how often there's more in there than just milk! So I absolutly agree about reading lables!


Rita said...

Hi Amira,

It's funny because for the past 8 years or so I've been very vigilant about reading labels for my dog's food to find out what I'm feeding her, I've even gone to seminars about it. I guess I should've been applying the same logic to myself.

That's a bit disconcerting about butter. How about edible oil product. Yum!