s One of our easiest ways to live our values is to pay attention to what food we purchase, either in restaurants or in grocery stores and farmers markets for home consumption. But food labeling laws and conventions can be a challenge. This has been most apparent in the great debate over GMO food labeling.
But labeling is actually a much broader subject than all the attention on GMO's would suggest. I've been intrigued by the recent coverage in Mother Jones and a few other news outlets claiming that commercial versions of products advertised as having health benefits -- soy-based milk, almond milk, and many fruit drinks -- have such misleading labeling that consumers are being defrauded. How many of us know, for instance, that almonds make up less than 2 percent of the leading almond "milks?"
Does it matter? Probably not if you are avoiding an alternative like organic cows milk from a local farm because of lactose intolerance or an ethical choice to avoid all dairy products. And it may be good news if you are worried that your fondness for almond milks makes you a contributor to the unsustainable over-planting of water intensive almond orchards in California's Central Valley -- the larger the percentage of almonds in the product, the more you are contributing to the environmental damage by consuming it. But if you are buying almond milk because you think there is a measurable health benefit to consuming almonds this way, you might be deceiving yourself, harming the environment, and paying a premium to do so.
This being the United States, there are lawsuits brewing that highlight some of the labeling fraud issues. One good summary I read last month can be found at: www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Regulation/Term-soymilk-not-misleading-says-judge-in-Trader-s-Joe-s-lawsuit
submitted by Rev. Barnaby Feder, Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society