One Way My Supermarket Tries To Fool Me

Outrageous experiments in sensible eating.
Feb. 3 2011 12:13 PM

One Way My Supermarket Tries To Fool Me

Though I do most of my regular grocery shopping online and thus am not regularly subject to the trickery of actual supermarkets , my online market has its own tricks, such as this one: Atop the homepage, there are options to click; I've circled "Organic."

Ellen Tarlin Ellen Tarlin

Ellen Tarlin is a former Slate copy chief and writer of the "Clean Plate" blog. Her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston PhoenixBrooklyn Bridge, Bark, and  the RISK storytelling podcast. Follow her on Twitter.

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Which you would expect to take you to their organic food section, but when you click on it, it takes you here:

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The organic and "all-natural" section. What's so wrong with that? While the term organic has a specific legal definition and organic producers are inspected and regulated, all-natural has virtually no meaning , or rather, it can mean whatever producers want it to mean.

That's not the only misleading term  the food industry uses. There are several meaningless and unregulated food terms .

Though the USDA has set forth a definition of natural , without regulation from the FDA, it remains meaningless. However, this may be changing in 2011 .

Before I started researching this project, I was fooled by my market. I'd click on "organic" and when I saw all the products, many of them items I regularly buy, I actually thought Oh good, I didn't realize that was organic. Marion Nestle's book What To Eat has lots of great information to help you see through the techniques of the food industry.

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