Courtney Schatt, Dechen Lama, Willa Townsend
In recent years, the once straightforward definition of eating “healthy” has become blurred. Americans struggle to eat a healthy diet in part because of the discrepancy in the current definition of healthy. For years, groups such as the Eating Disorders Coalition are pushing to name America’s eating disorder—the obsession with eating healthy—orthorexia. This obsession with eating healthy, in combination with environmental concern and a desire to promote social welfare comprise the motivations that drive consumers in the food purchases that they make. Using the label to market and persuade consumers, food companies successfully instill the belief that labels, which convey a positive connotation, are indeed, healthy. There are three labels in particular that are especially prevalent in modern society: free-range, natural and organic. Due to vague definitions, the labels behind these products are misleading. Loopholes exist whereas the food industry can successfully manipulate USDA and FDA standards. Unbeknownst to the consumer, foods with such labels do not truly meet their hopeful expectations. This investigation examines the truth behind food labels and how consumers are not getting the healthy, justly produced and higher quality option that they believe they are. The image that these labels portray contradicts the manner in which the food products are produced under and what it actually entails for a product to be, for example, free-range. Because of this, consumers must be wary when browsing their local Whole Foods and must not blindly trust the glorified label on their food products. Consumers who want healthier and higher quality food options must become more informed and put their perceptions of labeled products into question.