Connecting Women Bloggers With Facts About Food Labels
Last month, Bayer sponsored a breakout session at the national BlogHer Conference to educate an audience of more than 30 female bloggers and an online audience about the information portrayed in food labels and to discuss the misunderstanding over labels like non-GMO and organic.
Leading up to the event, a survey was sent to all BlogHer attendees to get a feel for consumer purchasing behaviors and their perception of the food options found in their grocery stores. While 46% of the polled audience thought it was legal to give hormones to poultry (it’s not), 70% correctly identified that “organic” and “pesticide-free” were not the same thing. These insights emphasize how labels are contributing to misconceptions.
Grocery Cart Confusion
“…I’m involved in agriculture, and I go the grocery store and I read all of these labels, and I sometimes am like, what does that mean? I don’t even know what that means. Or that’s not a GMO. Or I don’t understand what that label says. And so I call that grocery cart confusion. So today hopefully we can debunk some of the things that you see in the grocery stores, answer questions you have, really generate a conversation…”
Kristin Root Reese
Lunch and Learn
During the lunch breakout session – which was live-streamed on Bayer’s AgVocate Facebook page – attendees heard from a panel of female experts, including a registered dietitian, a peach and vegetable grower, and an ag industry influencer/ farmer. The panel discussed what food labeling really means and how consumers can read and understand labels to help inform the decisions they make when feeding their families.
- Leah McGrath, Registered Dietitian, Ingles Markets
As a registered dietitian, Leah says consumers shouldn’t assume that labels like “non-GMO” and “organic” convey that those products are healthier. “A lot of times that just makes some products look like they might be better than they actually are. But the truth, what I tell people is really in the black and white: the back side of that box or that package, that ingredient panel, that nutrition facts panel, that list of ingredients. That’s where the truth is, because they can’t hide behind a pretty colored label or fancy wording on the front side of the package.”
- Michelle Miller, “The Farm Babe,” Farmer and Influencer
After watching the movie “Food, Inc.” and living in big cities far removed from the farm, Michelle became convinced that she should only buy organic. Then she started dating a farmer who grew GMOs. To find the truth between the two extremes, she felt it was important to ask the experts. “I decided to reach out to plant breeders, scientists, people that actually develop the crop technology… In terms of genetically modified organisms, literally everything we eat has had their genes modified by humans, whether it’s organic, non-GMO, GMO, nothing exists as it did in nature…. So GMO isn’t really an ingredient; it’s a process. It’s plant breeding.”
- Lori Anne Carr, Vice President and Administrative Manager, Titan Farms
Lori Anne and her family own and operate 7,000 acres of peaches and vegetables, making Titan Farms the largest producer of peaches, bell peppers, and broccoli in South Carolina. Lori Anne says farms are heavily regulated and tested to ensure food safety. Additionally, as a grower and a business owner, she can’t imagine doing anything that would jeopardize the health of the people who buy Titan Farms products and the safety of the food that her farm grows. "One of our biggest fears always is if someone were to ever get sick from eating something that we grew. That would be awful, it gives me goose bumps. Something like that would put us out of business so not only would it affect the general consumer, it would also affect the 700 people we employ who depend on us for their livelihood. We’re doing everything in our power to make sure that what you receive – if it has a sticker on it that says Titan Farms - is safe and good for you and just what you need to serve your family."
From Farm to Table
The panel moderator, Kristin Root Reese, is a blogger, a farmer, and runs a private cooking business. Kristin and all three panelists are “AgVocates,” supporting agriculture and farmers around the country.
“I enjoy being an agvocate for agriculture,” Kristin says. “I like to share my story of what we do on our farms, but I also love to showcase what other people do on their farms. And I mentioned I’m a mom, so those of you who are moms or have nieces or nephews or grandchildren, it’s important that we know and understand what we’re feeding our family members.”
Carrie Mess, a Wisconsin dairy farmer was also in attendance to help connect the consumers with another face and aspect of farming. After the session, Carrie talked with attendees to hear what they thought of the speakers and the taste test comparison of labeled and non-labeled foods. These responses were captured in her Facebook live video, shedding light on the facts that the conversation helped uncover for the attendees.
What is BlogHer?
The BlogHer annual conference, held June 22-24, in Orlando, Florida, brings together women online content creators, social media influencers , entrepreneurs, media makers and brand marketers. BlogHer is a member of the SheKnows Media family, the number-one women's lifestyle digital media company, with a mission of women inspiring women.
Stay tuned for more from the panelists as they elaborate on the topic of food labeling. Join the AgVocate Facebook Group and be a part of a like-minded community advocating for modern agriculture.