Spin Doctors: When Food Marketing Doesn’t Add Up

Truth Behind Food Marketing

The food industry is really good at finding out what people want to buy at the grocery store, and making products that people will consume over and over again. There’s a lot of thought (and money) that goes into understanding human psychology and behaviors and how they work. Food companies know how buyers make decisions, not to mention how much of the product you will buy and when.

That’s why the food industry is quick to jump on the nutritional bandwagon and market their products in such a way that they can profit best (and most often) from you.

I feel this is really unfortunate. Why should we be duped into spending more than we need to on specialty products and organics?

How the Organic Movement Started it All

The organic movement was really the first to take off and exploit the notion that our food supply is contaminated by chemical residues which are toxic for the consumer. While there are many people who are happy to consume organic food and pay the extra money for the peace of mind, I have always had a strong opinion against buying organic.

Although our food can contain some chemical residues which can’t be removed by washing or peeling, the toxic burden on our bodies is meaningless when you consider the total amount of toxins we ingest every day outside of our food, from air pollution, for example.

For the most part, our liver can adequately deal with these chemicals. But as far as fruits and vegetables are concerned, the nutrient values are virtually the same with any minor differences not worth the additional cost.

Food producers have been gouging consumers for years by charging high prices for produce that does not justify the expense from a nutritional perspective.

My One Exception (in favour of organic)

There is one exception to my rule. While I have always thought organic produce wasn’t for me, I do find that organic and free-range meat is worth the additional cost. With organic free-range meats, the quality of the meat is better because the animals are fed a better diet and raised in an all-around better environment.

I was in the grocery store recently and saw a whole area dedicated to organic products, busy with people on the hunt for quality produce. I really felt like going up to them and telling them that they were being ripped off.

Gluten-Free Isn’t Worth the Money

In the same store I also noticed a whole section dedicated to gluten-free foods. This is another food marketers’ dream, and a fast and easy way for food companies to take your money.

The gluten-free industry in the United States is expected to increase and be worth an estimated $15 billion by 2016. What’s even more interesting is that less than two percent of people actually have a problem with gluten! So why are people throwing away their money on gluten-free?

Gluten is a protein found inside grains like wheat. When gluten is added to bread products, it helps to give the bread its soft and doughy texture. What makes gluten a problem for some people is that they lack a particular enzyme allowing them to digest gluten properly. These people do need to eat food that is gluten-free.

This means there is almost 98% of the population that is throwing away hard-earned dollars on the gluten-free enterprise, although it’s completely unnecessary. This food is very targeted and isn’t healthier or better for you. For most people it is simply over-priced.

Beware the Nutritional Claims

Beware of food marketing. That’s the bottom line. The industry was created to make sure you spend. Be careful what you choose when you go to the grocery store. When in doubt, just leave it on the shelf and do some research.

Kattelmann, K.K., “ADA Pocket Guide to Gluten-Free Strategies for Clients with Multiple Diet Restrictions,” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 2012; doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2012.04.012.