Ben & Jerry’s REALLY Wasn’t All Natural?

Ben & Jerry'sCan we really be shocked anymore when a huge conglomerate claims their products to be all natural, to which we then find out isn’t really the truth?

Nah. We’re used to this by now. This is advertising and anything goes. Especially since the FDA doesn’t have a definition for the word ‘natural’. (Um… why not? Seems like there needs to be one… but maybe that’s just me.)

Anyone can proclaim, loud and clear (and they do), that their products are ALL NATURAL and not let one ounce of their tiny conscience to get even remotely in the way of sales, even though they’re adding in partially hydrogenated oil (which we all know as the evil trans fat). The only thing their ‘all natural’ products can’t contain is artificial colors and ingredients that aren’t “minimally” processed. (And does the FDA have a definition for “minimal’?)

So basically everything in the middle aisles of every single grocery store across the USA is shouting All Natural at you, which we can pretty much assume is a big fat lie. So what’s an all-natural shopper to do?

Go as ‘minimally’ processed as possible by shopping at your local farmer’s market and baking those cookies and breads at home where you are the one adding the ingredients and, if you’re so inclined, you can even substitute one ingredient for an even healthier one.

One major bone of contention though is, who’s got the time? Grocery stores are all about convenience, I get it. It’s hard to schedule your food shopping around local farmer’s markets if you’re in a small town. (Where I am, there’s a farmer’s market almost everyday, you just have to know which town and what day.) But that can be a hassle too. However, I happen to loathe the Stop & Shop that is two minutes away from my house (can the employees be any more moody and unhelpful… probably, but I couldn’t imagine.) That right there is incentive enough for me to go there only in emergency situations and for staples like club soda and paper towels. But if you don’t have a crappy grocery store just mere minutes from your house, (you actually have one that’s nice and pleasant), then it’s best to be as jam-packed with food and ingredient knowledge as humanly possible. It’s the only way to beat ‘them’ – the advertisers and marketers! The more you know, the better chance you have of making good food choices and the less fooled you’ll be by the in-your-face claims the marketers make.

We’re certainly going to see more high in Omega 3′s, fat-free, all natural, high fiber, low carb, unsaturated fat, low-calorie ‘snacks’ hit the shelves trying to lure us in with their farmer Bob’s and happy cows on the packaging. Don’t be duped. It’s called effective marketing. Read the ingredients and know what you should and shouldn’t be eating. And then hopefully one day the marketers, with their false claims and bold fonts, will simply go away.

Until then, eat smart and don’t believe the claims, believe the ingredient list.

Anne Marie Costanzo is a nationally certified personal trainer and owner of Little Black Dress Personal Training. She can be reached at am@littleblackdresspt.com or (914) 841-1121.

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About the Author: Anne Marie Constanzo