Selling “Natural”

I was recently on a short vacation with my husband.  We popped into a local grocery store to buy a few things that make up our standard breakfast.  At the moment I am in love with protein pancakes with peanut butter (recipe to follow in a future blog post).  I normally buy natural peanut butter because I don’t like the additives in the other stuff.  Unfortunately they didn’t have my normal brand available so I purchased a different one.  I didn’t even look at the ingredient list.  I just trusted that the term “natural”, as advertised on the front of the box, meant peanuts only.  Well I was wrong!  As you can see from the picture below the “natural” peanut butter I purchased had not only peanuts, but sugar and palm oil!  In this case, the word natural was used only as a marketing term.

Always Read the Labels

Unfortunately the word natural is not regulated.  There are no rules that companies are required to follow to list “natural” on their packages.  With a broad definition of the term, advertisers are left with a pretty wide berth.  It is up to us, as the consumer, to read the label carefully and determine if the product fits our requirements.  We have to be diligent because it is the job of food companies and marketers to coax us into purchasing their products by any means necessary.  As you can see from the picture of the two products, they even use bolding to trick you.  If you were to look quickly at the list you would see the word “Ingredients” and the word “Peanuts” and might not notice the other additives.

This experience was a reminder to me to always read the ingredient labels.  As a rule of thumb in my home, a packaged product that is consumed regularly should have only a handful of ingredients and those ingredients should be easy to pronounce.

Have you been tricked in the past when trying to make healthy food purchases?  Share your experiences in the comments below.

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