False advertising and how it affects your food choices

One of the more challenging aspects of eating a Real Food/Paleo/Primal diet isn’t necessarily cutting out unhealthy foods. It’s actually trying to find places to eat with high quality ingredients. Add being on a budget or short on time and it can become downright impossible. Lately it seems restaurants are jumping on the health food wagon to meet consumers demand for higher quality meals. While this may seem like we’re moving in a positive direction, the reality is that we’re being greenwashed.

Recently I passed a billboard for Moe’s Southwest Grill promoting their “all-natural, cage-free, skinless white breast meat chicken with no hormones added.” More specifically it said something like afraid of hormones in your chicken? Wait, what? This is where things start to get shady. The USDA has strict guidelines about the use of hormones in poultry:

Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”

If every chicken you buy in the grocery store or eat in a restaurant is already hormone free then why is Moe’s making claims that their chicken is hormone free? Because it benefits their bottom line, the almighty dollar. It gets consumers like you and I who care about how our meat is raised in the door.

Let’s move on to what “cage-free” looks like. It’s not pretty. This is the USDA’s definition:

This label indicates that the flock was able to freely roam a building, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water during their production cycle

It seems to me that Moe’s and other companies advertising their healthy and green alternative to conventional meat are trying to sell you a picture of animal utopia where chickens, pigs, and cows are roaming across  big pastures living their lives to the fullest before they become our dinner. When in reality the meat is still conventional. It’s just got a fancy label because it lives in a barn with hundreds to thousands of other birds and has no room to roam or even get to that little slot in the door that has access to sunlight.
It sounds like I’m anti-Moe’s and let me be clear that I’m not. I appreciate that they’re trying to move in the right direction. What I’m against is the false advertising that’s taking place. It may not be possible for all of us to eat locally raised, pastured animals all of the time or any of the time for that matter. But if I’m choosing to eat conventional factory farmed meat I’m making that decision based on facts. Not a company’s desire to make money off of what they think will be the public’s ignorance to labels and what they mean.
Their website claims they don’t use added hormones in their pork (again, totally bogus) and that their beef is grass fed. I was all ready to forgive the false advertising because I was so excited about grass fed beef then I read this over on Real Food Whole Health:

First, was I willing to consider Moe’s as the winner over Chipotle as best primal fast food? YES! Especially after Primal Toad’s post! In fact, because of that post, I was preparing to go to Moe’s for lunch, that is, until I checked out the allergy info on their website (I suggest you ALWAYS check allergy info on any restaurant you can, even if you don’t have an allergy- it will provide you with a lot more info than the nutrition list. Also, any ingredient lists are a MUST check!) and saw that there was soy and milk in the grass-fed beef. I thought maybe this was a marinade issue, so I called my local Moe’s to find out if I could get the grass-fed beef without soy/milk. I was told that it was soy protein and whey IN the meat- added DURING PROCESSING. What the heck?? For the life of me, I can not figure out WHY you would take lovely, healthy grass-fed meat and do THAT to it.

Yes, why would they do that???
As a radio personality and voice actor for the last 18 years, I know advertising. I know what marketing and sales people go through to get the numbers they want. If consumers want “healthier” options, companies are going to produce them even if they have to lie. I have witnessed this personally numerous times in my career.
Moe’s isn’t the only company guilty of running greenwashed campaigns. Subway is now advertising that they have avocado with omega 3. That’s like saying you serve beef containing protein. Burger King has sweet potato fries. Neither of those are enticing options for most of us eating the way we do, but as a whole, society is prone to falling for advertising. Remember the saturated fat purge? How did that occur?

In this ad it occurred by playing on the heartstrings of newly married women. The media got hold of it and it was spun every possible way advertisers and companies could figure out how to spin it.

The majority of people in America don’t want to know where their food comes from let alone research how it’s getting to their dinner table. Recently at a family gathering I was discussing growing our own meat birds and my husband’s hunting plans for the fall which pretty much grossed everyone out. None of these people grew up on a farm but I spent a good chunk of my childhood on one so maybe that’s the difference. Someone remarked that they don’t even want to touch frozen chicken to cook it. There is no greater disconnect than that.

I can’t help those who want to stay blissfully ignorant, but I can help make a difference for those who want to be educated. Don’t be a victim of false advertising. Question everything.

2 thoughts on “False advertising and how it affects your food choices

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *