I’ve just arrived home from California. It’s only 2 hours away by plane, I’ve been there many times, and on the surface the culture seems virtually the same as here. But I was surprised at the differences I noticed in food labelling and packaging (aka marketing) at the local grocery chains.
The example I found most astounding was the labelling of a bag of kale and spinach as “Juicing Greens”! With juicing as one of the latest fads in health and weight loss, someone must be making money by promoting basic greens as so exciting and trendy! And note the yellow box on the label – “Healthy” too? Imagine that. This got me reflecting on the food marketing I’ve likely been susceptible to here in Western Canada. I guess we’ve been hit harder with the “Paleo Diet” as a food consumption concept, where in its most simplistic description, animal fat and protein are good and grains are bad*. Conversely in California, I couldn’t even find higher fat table (or coffee) cream, the presumably undesirable homogenized (3.25% fat) milk was disguised with a lack of labeling, and most of the other dairy products were labelled “fat free”, “low fat” or “fat reduced”.
I often see labels for “Gluten Free” on items that have never contained gluten, but on this trip, I also noticed products labeled “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” on items that likewise wouldn’t have had any sugar anyway.
I appreciate the desire and commitment of the food industry to educate people about what’s in their food, but I question the motivation when grocery shopping seems to be more about marketing promises or the latest buzz words than nourishment. As a lot of our popular culture stems from our southern neighbours, I’m curious when “juicing greens” will show up on the shelves here in Vancouver (where we tend to be a bit righteous about how healthy we are). Is it already in other parts of Canada? A little marketing research anyone?
*This is my own description and perception of the Paleo Diet concept, not backed by any research.