Ever get to the register at the grocery store and wonder, “how the heck did I spend that much money?!”? Yup, me too. That was me every week. Week after week I would head home with only a few groceries, but a much lighter wallet. Then I got smart. I asked questions, did my research, and started saving.
There were a few truths that I needed to accept first:
- EVERY product company wants my money, yours too!
- In America, fear sells. Big time!
- Manufacturers care about the bottom line, not my personal health and wellness.
- Manufacturers will use buzz words and packaging to get you to buy whatever junk is inside.After we realize that our money, not our health, is what drives these companies, it is a lot easier to turn away and make smarter decisions for our health and our wallet. Identifying some of the major trends and buzz words that are currently used can help too!
Gluten Free Products
Luckily, no one in our family suffers from Celiac Disease or has a gluten sensitivity. If you adhere to a gluten free diet, shopping can invariably be a challenge sometimes. However, this phrase “gluten free” has become a marketing ploy to boost the sales of products that would never contain gluten in the first place!
The problem is that these companies are betting on the fact that we have no real idea what gluten is or where it is usually found. They also hope that we will choose their product over a non-labeled competitor, believing it to be healthier. According to economist.com the gluten free industry hit 8 billion dollars in 2014. It has proved to be a very profitable niche, so many companies are willing to jump on board.
In order to not fall for marketing gimmicks, we need to understand what gluten is and where it can be found. Gluten is a naturally occurring protein found in barely, wheat, and rye.
The American Diabetes Association offers a great resource of foods that commonly contain one of these three items. The trick is to not buy a product simply because it
is labeled “gluten free”. For example, Walmart sells ready to heat and eat grilled chicken. Tyson sells a 22oz bag of all natural grilled and ready chicken for $6.98, that is 31.7 cents per ounce.
Another company, Nature Raised Farms, sell as an identical product but it is labeled “gluten free”. Their 12 ounce bag is $7.47 or 62.3 cents and ounce. Almost double!
Chicken meat NEVER contains gluten, until it is breaded. So save yourself some money and don’t fall for this gimmick.
All Natural Products
This tag is super easy. The FDA does not regulate “All Natural” products, they have no definition for the meaning of this label, since most food is far from its natural form.
There is a Natural Products Association, but nutritionally there is probably little difference. So just read the label! You can probably find a cheaper and just as “natural” counterpart for less money.
Heinz sells two apple cider vinegars, one is labeled “all natural”. The obvious difference is that the “all natural” vinegar has not been clarified and still contains the mother or pulp.
Nutritionally, no different. The mother is a cellulose which creates the vinegar, much like yeast in beer, it has anecdotal healing properties but for recipes regular is fine.
Walmart sells regular apple cider vinegar for $2.12 or 6.6 cents per ounce. The all natural cider vinegar is $4.24 or 13.3 cents per ounce. Again you are paying double for the same product.
This tag is used much like the gluten free label. The best way to avoid this is to educate yourself on what crops are actually genetically modified. If you are curious about GMO vs. Organics, feel free to read my other blog post. The ISAAA has a complete list of currently GMO crops. There are not as many as you think!
Thanks to the Non GMO Project, any food that is not genetically modified can apply to be added to their ever growing list of products , even if the product never has been GMO! So this is a buyer beware! You will definitely wind up paying more, when there is absolutely no difference.