Food companies are smart. They know what consumers care about and what terms are trendy, and they market their products accordingly.
This isn’t always a negative thing, but it can be.
Below are three common terms used on food packages – none of which mean what they seem.
Perhaps the most misleading term in the food industry, “natural” can be slapped on just about any food product!
Here’s a funny video about the “natural” phenomenon. Watch from 0:27 to 1:05 and you’ll see what I mean
The term “cage-free” might drum up images of happy hens running around a farm yard, but this is far from what cage-free actually means. In reality, most “cage-free” birds spend their lives in extremely crowded warehouses and have little or no access to the outdoors. Diseases run rampant in these warehouses due to tight quarters, unclean conditions and contaminated feed.
If you’re looking for eggs or poultry from chickens who truly lead happy lives, look for the term “pasture-rasied” on packages. More on egg-buying here.
Made with Whole Grains
Just because something has whole grains in it, doesn’t mean it is whole grain. Even if only a small percentage of the grains used in a product are whole, that product can write “made with whole grains” on the package. Sugary cereals, commercial baked goods, and packaged crackers may all make this claim – but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy, 100% whole grain, or naturally high in fiber. More on grain-buying here.
Decoding food labels can be super tricky. Looking for the term “organic” is one way to make it easier, since organic is a regulated term & has a consistent meaning no matter what kind of product you’re buying.