Consumer education

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With the daylight hours dwindling each passing day, Bill and I watch a little more TV in the evenings. We watch the occasional game show and try to “win.” We, apparently, missed the greatest, or worse, wrong answer ever given on a game show.

A video was shown of cattle grazing. The host said the cattle were from Scotland and were both red and black. The time allotted to answer elapsed without a single contestant offering an answer. “Red and black Angus,” the moderator explained. The problem, however, was the cattle in the video were not Angus or Red Angus; they were Scottish Highlands. 

These are supposed to be intelligent, well-educated folks on this show, yet no one knew the difference. If I were on the show, I would have to raise a protest. It might have been the only question I got right, so I might have to fight for points where I could. 

I could never find an “official response” from the show about the mistake, and it didn’t make national news like some faux pas do, so I guess it wasn’t a big deal to most folks. 

Not knowing a breed of cattle isn’t a big deal, and black-hided cattle can be hard to tell apart, but not understanding where food comes from is a big deal. 

Over the last decade, there have been numerous surveys asking American consumers where their food comes from and what it’s made of. Many of them have no clue. 

I’m sure most have heard a percentage of the adult population in the U.S., believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows. But, have you heard orange juice is a popular “fruit” and potato chips and French fries are popular “vegetables” in the U.S.?

I read a report a few years ago stating that about one-third of Americans do not know foods with no genetically modified ingredients contain genes. It’s such a shame they didn’t pay attention in upper elementary or junior high school science class. 

A 2022 survey of 2,000 people by OnePoll in partnership with NatureSweet, a Texas-based produce grower, packer and seller, presented some interesting results. 

Respondents said when they don’t see the word “natural” on food packaging, they tend to think the product must have chemicals in it (52 percent) or is likely to be processed (43 percent). Forty-two percent said they assume food that isn’t labeled “natural” is unhealthy or full of preservatives.

There are no labeling guidelines for products that claim to be “natural,” even if it’s full of additives. I looked up a popular snack bar brand’s apple and carrot variety, which claims to be “naturally flavored with other natural flavors.” It contains apple puree concentrate and carrot puree, as well as  zinc oxide, sodium citrates and mono- and diglycerides. How is that a healthy snack? The FDA does regular “natural flavors,” ironically.

The “natural” label is another marketing scheme to dupe consumers who don’t know the difference between apple puree concentrate and a Granny Smith.  

I make no claim of following a “healthy diet,” nor do I promote myself as an expert in anything, but I know the difference between an Angus and a Highlander. I also know the best natural foods are those produced on our farms and ranches in the Ozarks, and that’s the biggest win of all.

Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected].

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