Thursday, August 12, 2010

"All Natural"

We so often see the claim "all natural" on food packaging. A few years back I contacted Snapple about their all natural claims and not surprisingly, they blew me off. The email said something like "Our ingredients meet the necessary requirements to be labeled all natural. If you're looking for something without sugar, we offer a Black & White tea." Hu? Um, okay. I wasn't looking for a sugar free beverage but one that was really all natural. Clearly they didn't have one.

I think we're all aware that claims on products are governed by a very loose set of standards and so much of it is not what it seems. It's our responsibility to look beyond what the box says and in the case of Ben & Jerry's, beyond the pint. I read the following article and was not surprised. However, I was surprised to find out they are owned by Unilever. I had no idea.

Ben & Jerry's making bogus 'all natural' claims, food watchdog says

It's not that I thought they were still the small company they started out as but I guess their marketing has done a great job maintaining that small company feel and I still sorta pictured Ben & Jerry making the ice cream. I know, impossible but still a nice thought.

Anyhow, the point to this post is "all natural" really doesn't mean "all natural." Things that are really all natural don't usually need to be labeled as such. There is so much competition in the food industry and I understand the pressure to make these seemingly harmless claims to make us feel better about buying the product but if they're not true, it's no longer harmless.

Also, regarding Ben & Jerry's specifically, we pay more for their specialty, "all natural" product. But why? If the ingredients are similar to those in a bargain ice cream, what are we paying for? Most definitely not higher quality ingredients but certainly the irresistible and unique flavors no one else offers us. Genius.

We do have other options though. Making our own is likely the most economical and certainly gives us the most control over ingredients or there are ice cream companies that are using quality ingredients, we just need to take a closer look. And remember, everything in moderation. Whether a pint of Ben & Jerry's or a bowl of homemade ice cream, it's all good - in moderation.

B&J Cake Batter ingredients: Cream, Skim Milk, Water, Liquid Sugar (Sugar, Water), Sugar, Wheat Flour, Coconut Oil, Egg Yolks, Soybean Oil, Butter (Cream, Salt), Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Chocolate Liquor, Natural Flavor, Salt, Guar Gum, Soy Lecithin, Turmeric (Color), Carrageenan

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