Paying the Price

Last week after talking about misleading labels, I decided to do a little investigating to get more detailed information about said labels and compare prices. So on Friday afternoon, I donned my favorite hoodie and lurked around the ridiculously cold meat section in HEB until my fingers turned blue and the guy stocking shelves started looking a little nervous. I wanted to get updated, real life numbers: just how much are unknowing American consumers paying for a phony label?

Following last week’s focus, I mainly payed attention to the poultry and pork products. A pack of “ fresh, natural, no antibiotics ever, no added hormones, no artificial ingredients, no preservatives” chicken breasts was a whopping $4.99 per pound. And the generic brand that didn’t have any of the literary embellishments? $1.99 per pound. A pack of pork loin chops that touted the same “benefits” was $2.49 per pound, and its white label counterpart was $1.94 per pound. Now, I’m not a tightwad in any sense of the word. I don’t mind spending a few extra dollars here and there if I think it’s worth it. But a respective $3 and $.55 extra for sketchy promises that have no nutritional impact on the product itself? I have a problem with that.

I already covered the antibiotic and hormone situation, which are the main confusion-inducing names, so I’ll just address the “ fresh” and “natural” aspects today. “Fresh” is used only on poultry products to show that the meat never reached a temperature below 26 degrees. This has absolutely no impact on the quality of the meat; it’s an attention grabber, just like the rest of the platitudes. “Natural” means that the product doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients or preservatives. It has nothing to do with the way the animal was raised… it simply pertains to the way it was processed. Pretty misleading, huh? Again, none of these things change the nutritional value, which begs the question: why are we paying so much more for it?

The only conclusion I could arrive at is that the vast majority of consumers simply don’t know the difference, and misleading marketing certainly doesn’t help. Bridging this knowledge gap will take a lot of work, especially since the mainstream media has worked tirelessly to convince you that GMOs and antibiotics are akin to nuclear bombs. Next time you’re at the grocery store, take an extra minute to compare labels and make an informed purchase, and you may even save a few dollars! Thanks for reading, and please let me know if you have questions, feedback, or topics you’re curious about!

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