If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.
– Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food
Zero Trans Fats
No Sugar Added
Low Fat / Fat Free
Rich in Omega 3’s
In a trip to only two different grocers here in Durham, I saw all of these claims (and more) used to market peanut butters and other nut butters. Before I go any further, let me point out that food allergies can be serious, and allergen warnings are very important and should always be included on food labels. However, in these examples, these phrases are not designed as allergen warnings; they are designed as marketing slogans, fad-driven buzz words, and misleading health claims.
Once upon a time, the term “all natural” probably meant something and communicated wholesome goodness, quality ingredients, and sound nutrition. In some cases, sure, it still applies, but more often than not, “natural” means the opposite of “occurring in nature” when it comes to food. In other words, it has less than zero meaning. When I see “all natural” on something, it’s usually a non-starter. Sorry / not sorry, Nabisco. In case you’re wondering, the FDA has yet to define “all natural,” so food companies can use it on, well, anything, even if laboratory-concocted preservatives or genetically modified ingredients are used.
Perhaps even more misleading than the dilution of words like “all natural,” food businesses are hell-bent on using marketing buzz words based on fad diets to create halos of healthfulness around their brands and products. The thinking is, “If people see a big “HIGH PROTEIN, HIGH FIBER, LOW FAT” on the front of our jar, then they will recognize these things as important.” It works, but we’re not going to play that game, not now or ever. When you buy packaged foods in the store, we encourage you to look past all the claims and go straight to the ingredients, which should speak for themselves, as well as the nutrition facts and allergen warnings; these are the things that matter, not the claims of marketers.
We’re a business, of course, but we are not in the food business to sell things. We are here to change things; to remind people that ingredient integrity and the craft of cooking are more important than marketing claims and ad budgets. We are here to use real ingredients and make real food that is both delicious and nutritious. It just so happens that when you cook with real, whole ingredients, you get real, tasty, and truly good-for-you results. Can you help us spread the word on that?