Illinois Farmer Q&A: How do you feel when you see misleading food labels at the grocery store?

March 24, 2017

Illinois Farmer Q&A: How do you feel when you see misleading food labels at the grocery store?

You have questions about farm practices and food labels, and Illinois farmers have those answers. We asked local farmers your questions about various labels so you can get your answers straight from the source.

Let's talk about what's on your table.

"I feel duped. Plain and simple. I feel like food marketers are taking advantage of consumers who are stressed, feeling unsure of their food buying decisions, who are short on time and just want to get groceries and get home. Because I am a farmer and involved in efforts to share the why and how of our farm, I've had opportunities to learn the truth behind these labels. But not everyone has that opportunity and might rely on these labels for real information. Two words can not begin to describe the nutritional value of that food or the manner in which it was raised."

-Katie Pratt, Dixon, IL

"It makes me crazy and I specifically try to NOT purchase them! ALL food is antibiotic free! And MOST food is non-GMO, no matter how its labeled. Its a marketing ploy that works on a lot of people. Antibiotics and GMOs are important tools in providing safe, nutritious food."
 
-Lynda Gould, Ashton, IL

"I think it makes the consumer feel like there are right/wrong choices in the food that they purchase. Labels were intended as a food safety measure and as the profits from marketing increased so did the level of confusion and concern when looking at a product. I believe that farmers like myself want safe food and make responsible choices to ensure that happens, not to mention the strict regulations we must adhere to. Labels like "antibiotic-free" are frustrating because all meat and dairy you buy in a store is antibiotic-free."

-Megan Dwyer, Coal Valley, IL

"I think labels like "antibiotic-free" are misleading. To truly be “antibiotic-free,” a producer may not be caring for that animal to keep it in the best of health when it is ill. If someone is trying to say they have not used antibiotics as growth promotants, then they should spell that out. Non-GMO is another label that is very misleading. Somewhere I even saw something like water that was labeled “Non-GMO.” Seriously? This is an area where I definitely support a voluntary labeling standard. I’ve read books that theorize about genetically-modified food and the impact at the cellular level but have not seen any legitimate documentation. Meanwhile, the national academy of sciences published several hundred pages of more than 20 years of peer-reviewed research documenting no difference. So, I guess it’s a battle of messaging and ultimately what people want to believe."

-Heather Hampton Knodle, Fillmore, IL

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