Americans are getting wiser, more interested in health and wellness. We want safer, healthier, less synthetic goods. Manufacturers know this. Look at how things are labeled. How many of the following sound good?
- Low Fat
- Fat Free
- Fragrance Free
- Sugar Free
- Low Fat
- All Natural
- Made With Natural Ingredients
These terms often hide the truth of what is REALLY in the product. It's a type of greenwashing - a form of marketing spin in which green PR and green marketing are deceptively used to persuade the public that an organization's products, aims, and policies are environmentally friendly and therefore ‘better.’
The term "greenwashing" came about in the late 20th Century; there is much documentation about the lengths to which companies go to distract the public from truth. Now the term is used for the practice of using a half-truth to hide and deceive.
- Unscented: generally it means that the product may contain chemicals that neutralize or mask the odors of other ingredients. No thank you!!!
- All-Natural: may contain preservatives, be injected with sodium, or contain high fructose corn syrup. (Research HFCS! That stuff is ubiquitous, yet has caused me all kinds of trouble!)
- Sugar-Free: These products often contain artificial sugars (Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin) or sugar alcohols (Mannitol, Xylitol, Sorbitol). note: Sugar alcohols can cause diarrhea so don’t consume a lot in one sitting.
- Fat-Free: fats are responsible for much of the good taste of foods. To compensate, sugars (or worse) are added. In essence, we trade one evil for another.
- Made with Real Fruit: While companies must list the amount of nutrients they contain, such as fat and cholesterol, they do not have to disclose the percentage of ingredients, such as fruits and whole grain. So that photo of yummy strawberries might be on a product made with pears and lots of food dye.
Another way labels deceive us is with benign words like "fragrance" or "parfume" - a cocktail of mystery ingredients, often comprised of toxic ingredients (including hormone disruptors) and linked to almost everything from fertility, to weight, to acne.
So what are we to do? How do we protect ourselves? How do we know what is safe and what isn't? In a word, research.
- Read every label of everything you allow into your home. Whip out your phone right there in the aisle as you shop and look up those ingredients. (I say this knowing full well that if you have a toddler or infant with you, it won't be easy. But look at those sweet faces. Are they worth taking the extra time to keep them safe?)
- Join a like-minded community like my Facebook Group.
- Shop for one ingredient foods where possible.
- Know the difference between nutrients made in a lab and nutrients made in plants.
I'll leave you with a verse from Proverbs: The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.