Branding portrays quality.
Branding is important, especially here in the USA where we have a notion of getting “the best” for our money. This is a *thing* in the US. We want ‘The Best’. as if there even is a ‘The Best’. Brands provide a shortcut to ‘The Best’. Taste tests on TV commercials, such as ‘Coke versus Pepsi’ re-enforce that notion with us all.
Branding portrays consistency.
My father taught me about brands. Howard Johnsons used to dominate a particular niche in restaurants and motels. My father pointed out that no matter where you went in the USA you would get exactly the same product and experience at a Howard Johnsons. Like McDonalds, it isn’t ‘The Best’, in fact neither is very good, but it is a consistent ‘known’.
Branding portrays status.
Brands portray status as well. Which is the “best” brand of car? Once we find a brand we are satisfied with, we tend to stick with it. Big Agriculture has established a business model that preys on this notion.
While traveling I and my traveling companion have learned a lot about local culture by ordering local foods in local restaurants that are recommended by the people who work there. “What is the best dish the chef makes that no one orders? – i’ll have that.” In Munich my companion asked the waitress “what is the best beer you have.” She was a bit flummoxed at the question, but then her face lit up and she answered, “The best beer is the one you want!”. A very German answer when you consider what ranking things did in their history.
Branding creates loyalty
I love tomato juice. When i was a child we bought Sacramento Tomato Juice in cans. One day my mom came home and pointed out the packaging had changed. what had changed on it was the label now added the words “made from concentrate”. It tasted like the can. easily discernable difference in flavor. My mom bought up all the Sacremento Tomato Juice she could find that was NOT from concentrate. Of course we ran out, and then are forced to search for another “quality” brand or settle for the degraded “brand”.
Branding creates an economic system for big agriculture
It’s the dream of many small food brands to make the best, then make a fortune. when a small food brand using quality ingredients makes inroads into the market of a big argriculture name, big agriculture buys them out. They keep the brand and then replace the quality ingredients. I watched this happen time and time again in all segments. Progresso soups used to be made of real food. General Mills bought them. i didn’t notice until i had a can of Progressive soup that tasted awful. I checked the label, sure enough the real food was gone, replaced with many ingredients that were heavily processed or I couldn’t pronounce. This is why labeling is important.
Labels – trust your tastebuds, not your brain.
Understanding Labels is much more difficult to read and interpret than brand names. The above link is a good summary. When you read labels beware that the words may not mean what you think they mean. When in doubt check. I have found when a products have more than 3 ingredients, most of them are items you don’t know how to get, or would even consider using in your cooking. It’s a “birds of a feather” issue. When you find those great sounding words like:
- Natural Flavors
- 100% “with added…..”
- HFCS / High fructose corn syrup
- Corn Fed Beef
travel together in fake food products. These products are made to look good on the shelf, the words on the commercial label are carefully crafted to think you’re getting value, they are made to be cheap to produce, transport, store and last on the shelf. Flavor and nutrition are not in the formula.
How do i find Real Food?
- Know the source
- ask about the process
- Discard words on the label that intend to confuse and confound.
- Keep an eye on the brands you use, if the taste or label changes, look at it like it’s new again.
- Ask the place you buy chicken, beef and pork where the source is
- Research the source. Call them and ask them if their animals eat grain, or grass.
- Don’t hesitate to use the internet, contact the company, express your pleasure or displeasure.
- Move on when the brand you like changes its practices, and tell them why.