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  • Writer's pictureCourtenay Rudy

Can you trust a word? How Advertising has changed how we buy food.

Updated: Jun 4

So many words in our vocabulary that once held weight, and gave us reassurance, no longer hold any meaning. Words like "Natural", "Organic", "Free-range", and "Chemical Free", no longer mean what they once did. The meaning has been twisted and misrepresented. What does Natural mean? To big business, anything natural is a product or substance that's original components came from nature, it doesn't take into consideration what was done to it between collecting it from nature and turning it into the product you are buying.

Recently the term "Local" has been stretched and manipulated in a way I didn't foresee. Today companies use the term local to describe a product made in-country, or in-province. The customer has grown to understand that local means "better", but what they fail to understand is that we have "dirty" agriculture even here in BC. For example, I was recently told "I always buy local, I look for the BC grown sticker on my meat at the grocery store". I'm sorry to say, but BC has a large amount of commercial hog farms or CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), where the majority of BC pork comes from. The term "farm-raised" falls into the same category, since any property that contains animals or crops is considered a farm, even these CAFOs are "farms", as are feed-lots and battery cage chicken barns, so any meat that wasn't raised in a lab is "farm-raised".

Companies know that consumers are getting smarter, we want better products and we are willing to pay more for them. Don't be duped! Unless you know the farm, and have done your research, don't fall for the marketing ploys of these money grabbers. I'd personally rather you bought the cheaper food from the grocery store and then bought higher quality goods at a farmers market with the savings from the box store than you waste your money on fancy packaging.

I don't have a problem with consumers buying cheaper products, I really don't. What grinds my gears is when someone goes to the supermarket, chooses a more expensive option that seems like a better product, when in fact the product is the same and only the price tag and clever use of advertising jargon are different. If you want cheap food, and you know what you are buying, by all means buy it - no shame here. I just want you to have the facts.

I cant afford to buy the fancy containers and pay for the advertising it would require for me to outsmart big AG. I do have a voice though and a loyal set of customers. So maybe the word will spread, maybe you will read this and share it with a few friends. Who knows, but for now I will keep blowing my whistle and sharing truth.

Takeaway (if you are trying to eat locally/sustainably) - For the stuff you can't find at the farmer's market or locally, buy the stuff on sale, get the cheaper option, but buy minimally (snack bars, cereal and items like this are way more expensive than they appear- skip them). For the stuff you can get locally - spend the money and get it from the farmer. Your total bill will come out pretty even and your health cost will have drastically decreased.

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