A Tale of Two Labels

Posted by & filed under buyer beware, real food.

When it comes to reading labels when buying packaged food, the only one that matters is the ingredients label (and yes, the nutrition label is good as well). Bottom line, read the back of the package. (Caveat, the word “natural” means nothing now if you read it anywhere in the package. Lots of time “natural flavorings” means it includes MSG.)

Let me show you….

Here are two coconut waters:

Both say pure coconut water. But let's flip to the back of them. First the Zico:

Just coconut water. Yes! What we would expect from a label that said pure.

Now the Vitacoco:

There's the coconut water. But what? Some added sugar? Why? And added vitamin C. Some people may like that, but the problem here for me is that the front label says PURE coconut water.

Here's the definition of pure:

Not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material.

I think the thing that bothers me the most about all of this is that I like to trust people. And I expect people to be honest. I am, even when it's hard. Words have meaning. If you use them in ways that aren't true, you have emptied them of their meaning. Just because you are a corporation doesn't give you license to lie. Or change the meaning of words.

This is why I'm opting out of the industrialized food system little by little. My trust of it has eroded to pretty much zero. For now, for foods I can't grow like coconuts, chia (I tried), and other warm-climate foods, I need to trust labels. I need to trust the words used on them. And I don't. And that makes me really sad about more than just food.

And I don't want to be sad. So I'm going to be happy that there are some companies making good food. And they are the ones getting my business. Until I figure out how to live totally off my land, that is!


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