Food Labeling Impacted By Good Food Movement

Tart Cherry Juice Lowers Blood Pressure
Tart Cherry Juice Lowers Blood Pressure

The ‘good food’ movement transforms food labeling

What do we mean by the Good Food Movement? “The Food Movement. In a nutshell, encompasses the many people across America who have become passionately engaged with how their food is made and where it comes from”. Steve Armstrong | Oct 01, 2018

The reason we’re having this conversation is because like the terms ‘natural’ and ‘healthy, ‘good food’ and ‘clean labels’ mean different things to different people. It truly is a case of the value being in the eye of the beholder. ‘

The nutritional profile isn’t enough anymore. Consumers want to know everything about the supply chain – environmental stewardship, ethical labor practices, carbon footprint how a product is made. That’s what I call a rabid tribe.

Food manufacturers and regulatory agencies find this approach chaotic, That’s because they don’t really have any guidelines for translating consumer expectations about a food product onto its corresponding label,

That’s why there’s talk about a new “Process Label” As food production and consumption has become more complex, consumers have driven demand for food certifications. We have organic, GMO Free, Gluten Free, Cruelty Free and the list of 626 types of food certification labels goes on. You don’t need a scorecard, you need an app.

Consumers may not always know what’s in their best interest when it comes to convenience eating, but there are certainly enough of them to make traditional food brands like Campbell’s crumble and reorganize.

They and other processed food giants are finding it increasingly difficult to source new supply chains or retool processes to match the speed and depth of consumer self and planetary interests.

Steve Armstrong takes us on a deep dive into the morass of complexities confronting producers, regulators and consumers. Caveat Emptor!

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Tart Cherry Juice Lowers Blood Pressure
According a new report from Label Insight and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), grocery shoppers exhibit loyalty to products that create deeper relationships through information exchange,.
The Transparency Imperative report found that shoppers increasingly demand transparency and a closer connection to their food, so much so that 75% are more likely to switch to a brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what’s provided on the physical label. When shoppers were asked the same question in 2016 in a similar study by Label Insight, just 39% agreed they would switch brands.

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69% Of Consumers Want Transparency

The vast majority of consumers (69%) said it is extremely important or important that brands and manufacturers provide detailed information such as what is in their food and how it is made.

What Would Michael Pollan Buy?

Two of the food industry’s biggest critics are challenged to make a supermarket meal.
Michael Pollan Michael Moss

Spoiler alert: They don’t buy cereal. (Photo: New York Times/YouTube)

This is not the Michaels’ element. Walking through the aisles of an urban supermarket, journalists Micahel Pollan and Michael Moss, who both write about issues of food and health, appear more like reporters in a conflict zone than your average domesticated shopper.

But in a new video and story published in the New York Times this week, that’s exactly what the pair were sent to do: Buy provisions from a grocery store for a meal that would pass muster with the high standards put forward in Pollan’s Cooked and Moss’ Sugar Salt Fat. Unprocessed, low-salt, no added sugar, local, sustainable, organic, humane.

Hence the setting, as the question often raised by Pollan’s books in particular is how can anyone afford the time and money required to eat in the manner he advocates. “There would be no farmers’ market produce, no grass-fed beef or artisanal anything,” reporter Emily Weinstein writes of the challenge.

Initially, the venture doesn’t seem to be going very well.

“This is a cliff of sugar, by and large,” Pollan says, his arms gesturing to a broad swath of the aisles. Maybe all of the aisles?

Moss sees things in similarly nefarious terms: “This seems like such a tranquil atmosphere here: Quiet, peaceful music, smells OK. But behind these shelves is the most fiercely competitive industry there is. They’re all jockeying for position on the shelf, they’re fighting each other for stomach-share,” which Moss defines as “the amount of digestive space that any one company’s brand can grab from the competition,” in his recent story about the science of addictive junk food.

When Pollan begins to talk about the difference between processed foods, hyper processed foods and ultra processed foods, it feels like the whole venture might spin out of control, that the lunch will never be made. But in the freezer aisle, of all places, Pollan finds an everyman ingredient that has a place is his rarefied kitchen too. “This again goes to the distinction between processed foods and hyper processed foods: I think frozen vegetables are terrific, and I always have frozen spinach,” he says, clutching a Birdseye box. “This is a really simple product—it’s basically just spinach.”

The two journalists go on, off camera, to cook a meal of pizza, chickpea soup, and a salad of avocado and oranges. “It had taken more than an hour,” Weinstein writes. “A frozen pizza or canned soup would have been faster and easier to prepare. But, Mr. Moss pointed out, with pre-made dough, easy enough to find, you could make a healthy and delicious pizza in less than 45 minutes.”

It’s not as fast as fast food, but as Pollan and Moss have helped to show us, that grab-and-go culture of eating hasn’t served us well. So why not work for 45 minutes to make pizza?

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Related stories on Take Part:

• What Are Your Rules for Good Eating? Tell Michael Pollan

• Cheap, Sustainable, Delicious: Tomato Pie Recipe

• Michael Pollan Cracks a Beer With Stephen Colbert


Willy Blackmore is the food editor at TakePart. He has also written about food, art, and agriculture for such publications as TastingTable, Los Angeles Magazine, The Awl, GOODLA Weekly, The New Inquiry, and BlackBook. Email Willy | TakePart.com

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