Labeling People and Not Labeling Food

We don’t give them much credit for it, but most of the time, the average pre-schooler knows what he or she is talking about.

Small, demanding people often know what they're talking about. Bold Innocence -- limited edition print at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition licensed fine art print at Great Big Canvas.

Small, demanding people often know what they’re talking about. Bold Innocence — limited edition print at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition licensed fine art print at Great Big Canvas.

The other day I shared lunch with a random four-year-old and we decided upon deli chicken. My dinner companion informed me, quite definitively, that he wanted the kind of chicken “with the bones sticking out all over it.” This was accompanied by a series of acrobatic contortions that involved wrapping his elbows around his forehead.

“Hmm,” was my response. Obviously, he was being four, and had no idea of what he was talking about.

But he did, and at the deli counter, he repeated his instructions, both verbally and physically, adamant in that he was expressing a valid opinion.

So I stopped being so superciliously adult for a moment and seriously looked at the bin of random baked chicken pieces, piled helter-skelter one atop the other.

And epiphany hit.

“Do you mean a wing?” I asked.

“Yes!” he smiled at me, gratified that I finally understood.

I empathize with how he feels. I undergo similar mental and physical contortions when I am shopping for food, and want to find out – by reading the label – just what is in the product, so that I can ultimately decide whether or not I want to purchase it.

It's wheat free, allergen free, vegan, certified Kosher, and "natural" -- all great information. Now, I just need one more small addendum. Off the Grid, original oil painting by Steve Henderson Fine Art

It’s wheat free, allergen free, vegan, certified Kosher, and “natural” — all great information. Now, I just need one more small addendum. Off the Grid, original oil painting by Steve Henderson Fine Art

But while I’m told that it’s gluten-free (most bananas are) or kosher (I’m not Jewish), made with real sweet potatoes (there are fake sweet potatoes?) or on Facebook (who isn’t, these days?), what I really want to know, isn’t there.

Theoretically, what I am concerned about is nothing, and scientists of one camp assure me that the products which have undergone the modifications I’m worried about are safe, and I am foolish for thinking otherwise.

That’s fine. I’m glad they think so.

But these scientists of one camp don’t make dinner at my house, and I like to be the one making the decisions about what I serve, and do not serve, at my table. And in order to make that decision, I look at the package for elucidation.

“All Natural,” doesn’t mean much. Nicotine is natural, and I tend to avoid it in my salad dressing.

“No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives” is nice as well, but inapplicable to placating my concerns.

All I want is the phrase, “GMO-free,” or, “This food contains no Genetically Modified Organisms – apparently, I’m not alone in looking for this confirmation — but it’s really difficult to find.

It's a complicated dance, these days, being a wise, savvy, determined consumer. She Danced by the Light of the Moon, original painting at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition licensed art print at Great Big Canvas

It’s a complicated dance, these days, being a wise, savvy, determined consumer. She Danced by the Light of the Moon, original painting at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition licensed art print at Great Big Canvas

Why?

Right now I am staring at the back of a bag of chips that, through symbols and words, assures me that it is All Natural, Certified Gluten Free, Certified Vegan, Cholesterol Free, Trans-fat free – there are a dozen reassurances of what this product is free of. Even as I scan the label I hear media voices scolding me for worrying about nothing.

But I do. And if I am foolish, I am a college educated fool (for what that is worth nowadays), one of minority who knows when to use “him and me” and “he and I,” someone who reads more than four books a year. Most of us in this country are serious when we say what we like and don’t like, and when we ask for a chicken wing, we get irritated when we are treated as if we asked for “the piece with the bones sticking out all over it.”

Consumer choice begins when consumers are given a choice in the first place.

It’s my call, not anybody else’s, to determine what I will ingest, and that determination would be a lot easier to make, if I were given the necessary facts to make it. I do not need to be “educated” as a consumer, but I would appreciate being respected.

All of the artwork in my articles is by Steve Henderson, the Norwegian Artist, and it may be found at the following links: 

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
This entry was posted in Art, blogging, children, cooking, Culture, Current Events, Daily Life, Encouragement, Family, Food, Green, Growth, health, home, Humor, inspirational, Life, Lifestyle, News, Parenting, Random, self-improvement, shopping, success, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Labeling People and Not Labeling Food

  1. I very much agree that very young children know a lot more than we think AND also I’m not a dumb consumer. Them peeps are trying to pull th wool over our eyes so we will buy non-food that they call food. Love your blog.

    • Emma — I’m thinking that it’s not a coincidence that 1) you listen to and respect children and 2) you’re a wise consumer. I’m glad that you love my blog, and it’s good to “meet” you — I’m betting that you know how to cook as well, or appreciate fine food when you taste it. The more that we can introduce people in this country to fine food that they make themselves, the less that we’ll have to worry about the boxed cardboard.

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