Opinions are often expressed when I share my views on the advertising and marketing of products, assuming I “hate” all said products and then I boycott them. I make it evidently clear that I do not like unnecessary labels like gluten free bubble bath and non-GMO green peppers. This makes as much sense to me as labeling apple juice “lactose free”. Just because it never contained lactose (or high-fructose corn syrup, or gluten or whatever the ingredient-to-avoid du jour is), and that doesn’t mean you need to advertise it and claim it as such to peddle consumers. For example, I think that labeling my children’s bath soap “gluten free” has the potential to raise red flags to parents (especially when the formula has not changed when it previously wasn’t labeled gluten free).
Speaking of the gluten free label, I fully own that a lot of products contain gluten that I was not aware of. If products can contain gluten like soy sauce, sausages, and even marshmallows: label them gluten free to make purchasing less stressful for people with Celiac disease. However, products that never have and likely never will contain gluten? I think it turns into a cash cow of sorts trying to suckle every dollar out of the consumers who buy into the gluten free trend. Perhaps this is a smart business decision of brands deciding to deceive customers, but it’s one that I don’t support and I have that right as a consumer. It’s also the basis of why I don’t support GMO labeling: I believe it will raise red flags to consumers and they will see them as warning labels. Quite frankly, I feel the same way about “not raised with hormones” pork and poultry, when it is illegal to raise pigs, chickens and turkeys with hormones in the first place!
Advertising is Subjective
Can we agree on this statement? We all have different perceptions and opinions on advertising, that’s why there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way of marketing a product. Perhaps A&W didn’t outright say “our beef is better because it is raised without hormones” but their campaign was called “Better Beef” and the tagline is “raised without the use of hormones or steroids” (which is redundant, by the way), so one could make the correlation that according to A&W, better beef = no added hormones, at least that is my perception of the campaign. Perhaps they realized this error, as I noticed the campaign is no longer touted “Better Beef”, and they have changed the name to “Our Beef Guarantee”. Maybe I was onto something in spite of my critics, who knows!
That’s another thing that gets brought up time and time again — that by not supporting this type of advertising I must think that consumers are ignorant, that they don’t know better and that I should give them more credit. Do I feel this way sometimes? Absolutely! I have plenty of evidence in my social media interactions to back up why unnecessary labels add to consumer fear and misunderstanding of food production. I’d be happy to show you how many people come to my website looking for information on hormones and beef and information on the Dirty Dozen, red flags raised by marketing.
I choose not to support the Non-GMO Project label, thus I boycott it. That is my choice as a consumer and I do not encourage or persuade anyone to follow in my footsteps. I think that gets lost in the mix of my blogging and social media sharing when I talk about agriculture and food production — I am a consumer and I have the right to express and share my opinions and vote with my dollars.
What Do I Support?
First and foremost I support Albertan- and then Canadian-made products when I shop. I like to cook and bake with Albertan/Canadian ingredients so I buy flour that is milled in Alberta and canola oil that is pressed in Alberta, and I choose to only use canola oil to cook and bake with because it is locally grown and I want to support canola farmers like us. Olive and coconut trees are not local, thus canola is my go-to, it’s a personal decision that I would never enforce on anyone. Fresh produce isn’t grown in Canada year-round, but I will buy imports as close to Canada as possible. I want my meat, dairy and eggs raised by Canadian farmers so I can support them with my dollars, not because I think it’s “better”.
— Trish Jordan (@aggiecoolchick) March 6, 2015
I also choose to shop for groceries at Co-op stores now, both our little one in the village and the bigger one in town because they actually have a program called “Localize” which allows you to easily buy food raised by local farmers. I was previously a Sobeys shopper, but I’m not a fan of a lot of their new marketing strategies like the “Better Food is Organic” campaign and all of the Jamie Oliver endorsed campaigns. There we have that controversial (to me) word “better” again that seems to get me into hot water on social media. I feel in this instance that organic food is not better (nor is conventional foods) and that it throws the way we grow food on our farm under the bus. Again — that is my perception. I can’t help but wonder how people would feel if Sobeys had a campaign called “Biotech [GMO] Food is Better” and sold GMO papaya and soon the GMO Arctic Apple? Pretty certain that wouldn’t be savvy among the pro-organic shoppers.
This is why I do not shop at Sobey's often. Don't buy into this marketing, ALL of our food is safe in Canada! pic.twitter.com/YkNAy6tFQ2
— Sarah Schultz (@NurseLovesFarmr) February 2, 2015
Better, better, better! Show me the science that certified humane meats are “better” for me, Mr. Oliver! When I tweet to Sobeys about these campaigns, they claim that it is all on based on consumer needs. Well, I’m a consumer too and I don’t need these extra labels.
— Sarah Schultz (@NurseLovesFarmr) February 2, 2015
Long story, short: I am a consumer too and I have the right to voice my opinions about what I perceive to be misleading advertising and fear-marketing. Do you have to agree and listen to me and boycott products? Oh heck no. I have never called to action a boycott for a store or product and I never will. I respect your choices, and hope that you will respect mine too.