Four Food Buzzwords and What They Really Mean

“All natural”

“Locally grown”

“But it’s organic”

“I only eat grass-fed beef”

We’ve all encountered these phrases, whether they came up during conversation or were printed across the produce bin at the grocery store. Do you really know what they mean? Continue reading


Jumping on the Gluten-Free Bandwagon

If you’ve ever had the thrilling opportunity to accompany me to the grocery store, you have probably seen me randomly stop  in the middle of a packed grocery aisle and exclaim, “SERIOUSLY?!”, causing the few people immediately surrounding us to stop and stare. I’m usually yelling at the product sporting a label in bright, bold colors that advertises it’s lack of a certain product (for example, gluten, which seems to be on EVERYTHING lately).

Lately, gluten-free diets have been THE diet to go with for whatever ails you, even going so far as a supposed cure for tiredness (have you tried sleeping?) and lack of energy (maybe incorporating some fruits and vegetables into your diet would help?). There have been lots of articles circulating on social media the last few weeks that discuss whether people who are “gluten-free” even understand what gluten really is. Continue reading

14 Facts About Your Bacon

Scrolling through BuzzFeed last week, I happened across an article “14 Things You Need To Know About Your Bacon” (You can read it here). I opened it because, well- bacon. Bacon is awesome. Needless to say, I was disappointed by the article. The HSUS, ASPCA, and PETA were all referenced, but no farmers. You know, the people that actually raise your bacon. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, if you have questions, please ask!

Here are 14 interesting facts about your bacon: Continue reading

My Beef with Chipotle

Chipotle makes delicious burritos, and I doubt that many will argue against that. But their marketing strategy is a little off. Is it effective for selling burritos? Yes, very effective.

When I say that their marketing strategy is a little off, I mean that it seems to contradict their stated beliefs. They are all about supporting family farmers, local farms, sustainably-raised food, organic produce, and antibiotic-free meat. And there is nothing wrong with any of that. It is your choice to choose what foods you want to consume and Chipotle’s choice to choose what foods they want to serve. (See my previous post, Choices, for more). But the way that Chipotle is advertising this is what has gotten me and many members of the agriculture industry all fired up. Continue reading

Less Food Labeling?

In November, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “Some Food Companies Ditch ‘Natural’ Food Label”. While this has not necessarily been the center of attention lately, especially not in Central Illinois with the recent tornado damage, it is relevant to everyone who eats food that comes from the grocery store. Basically, many food companies are choosing to remove the “natural” label from their products (think Naked juice or Goldfish). There have been lawsuits over the “natural” claim that say that there is no guidelines behind the label, so literally anyone can use the label on their product if they choose to do so.

In case you’re not an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal (nor forced to read it for a politics class), here’s the link to the article that was published about a month ago now.

I’ve blogged about labeling before (see “Are We OVER-Labeling” for more), and it seems that the American public is thinking along the same lines as I do. Labeling is not a bad thing, it’s just when we have too many labels or labels that have few to no requirements is when it gets confusing. Labeling has become more of a marketing tactic Continue reading

Are Organic Foods Really Pesticide-Free?

I’m a teaching assistant (aka- student grader) for one of the Agriculture and the Environment classes offered at Illinois State University, and today we went over organic farming, touching on the topic of pesticides used in the organic farming industry. Wait, what? Pesticides? I thought organic farming meant that there were no pesticides used?

As it turns out, pesticides are used in organic farming. But they’re a different kind of pesticide than what is used in conventional farming. Organic farmers are allowed to use any naturally occurring pesticide. Natural in this context means that it is derived from ingredients found naturally on our planet and will eventually break down into its natural ingredients. Remember organic chemistry? Same terminology. Continue reading

Are We OVER-Labeling?

“Whole Grain” Microwave Popcorn

So as I was enjoying my bowl (okay… bag) of lightly-buttered popcorn and M&Ms this evening and contemplating what I should blog about, I noticed an oval shape on the popcorn box bearing the words “WHOLE GRAIN”. The statement directly blow it says “Made with 100% whole grain popcorn”. Seriously? The manufacturer found it necessary to tell me that my popcorn was whole grain? What has this world come to? Continue reading