What Do You KNOW About The Food You Buy?

September 20, 2011

Flowers suggest to the subconscious that the apples are fresh.

Some months back we posted about meat glue, aka transglutamase. Although generally natural/harmless, it can be used to trick consumers into paying for something they aren’t actually getting…namely, a prime cut of meat (whether it’s beef, fish, lamb or chicken….and if you’re a pescetarian, you may be unhappy to find out you’re eating mammal).

Of course, there are other ways that consumers are mislead about the food they buy. Martin Lindstrom, an expert in the psychology of marketing, wrote over at Fast Company about the techniques that grocery stores (and Whole Foods in particular) use to get consumers to buy their foods.

Subtly signalling freshness to the consumer seems to be the name of the game: the use of flowers at the entrance, or of displays that remind you of farmer’s markets, as well as other forms of signage and decoration are all meant to entice you into believing the produce is just-picked fresh…so that you’ll buy more.

You can hardly blame grocery stores for using nice displays, although Lindstrom is critical of the fact that some produce, apples in particular, can be over a year old! This doesn’t mean that it’s bad; if stored at the right temperature with minimal exposure to oxygen food can be well preserved, although not all places use such a high-tech method…waxy apples aren’t the best.

Most produce is tastiest when it’s in season, so if you’re concerned, just keep in mind when the harvest season is, and base meals around what’s current! Oranges, winter gourds (pumpkin, etc.) and broccoli are coming up! Shopping at farmer’s markets is also a good way to ensure that food goes farm-table, rather than being kept for a long time.

Where do you buy your produce?

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