Gluten-free blueberries, non-GMO bottled water, antibiotic-free cheese, hormone-free broccoli. Do these sound like legitimate food labels? If you know anything about food, you would never be concerned about wheat in blueberries or that your water has been genetically-modified; however, in today’s grocery stores, consumers are asked to wade through a wealth of information and marketing claims when they make purchasing decisions.
Some labels are necessary and add value while others are just capitalizing on hot-button trends. Fear-mongering has run amok, and if there’s a premium for it, retailers are going to grab it, even if it results in more confusion, fear and misinformation with our consumer base.
Taking it a step further, a recent USDA survey indicated that over half of consumers want foods labeled if it contains DNA. Even scarier, another survey conducted by Oklahoma State University showed that eight out of every 10 consumers want foods labeled for DNA.
Yes, you read that right. Consumers want to know if their food contains DNA.
According to U.S. Farm Report host Tyne Morgan, “A lot of consumers today don’t understand the basics of food, let alone a complex topic like genetically-modified organisms.”
Didn’t folks learn in science class that all organisms (yes, even food) have DNA in their cells? This massive misunderstanding of basic biology is concerning, but it should be a wakeup call that we have a lot of work to do in bridging the gap and sharing credible information with our consumers.
Tyne echoes this thought in her report, saying, “Food has become such an emotional topic for many. Sometimes it’s the topic of food that creates segregation and controversy when it reality, no matter where you live, New York or Montana, or a rural or urban area, food is what creates common ground among all of us. So let’s make food the topic that bridges us together, not what creates an even bigger divide in the U.S.”
This week, make it a priority to reach out to a consumer. It may mean stepping outside of your comfort zone, but we clearly have a lot of ground to cover and not much time to waste.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.