Picture this; You live in a house, sharing with a couple of others, you all pitch in doing your fair share of the cooking, the cleaning, the dreaded washing up. All bar one. That idle wotsit takes the Mick. How about this; you’re on a night out with a group of mates and you all take a turn to get a round of drinks in, all of you except that one guy that forgot his wallet. Again. Just like he did the time before. These people are taking the proverbial. Nobody likes being made a fool of and we rarely put up with it but the big food companies are doing it to us everyday and as we buy into their products, we let them.
It all comes down to marketing and branding. Creating a brand to market a product to sell to you and I. Each year these big companies get their hooks into the latest trend and milk it for all it’s worth. The big food trend of late? Local. Yep; ‘Local’ is what the likes of Tesco and M&S want us to buy into when they promote the likes of their ‘Willow Farm’ and ‘Oakham’ chicken.
Willow farm doesn’t exist. Oakham does exist but there is no such thing as an Oakham Chicken (not in the real world anyway). No, these are brands designed to catch us out with country farmhouse style labels they want us to believe that we’re buying chickens from a wonderful farm where all the animals run free and play in the fields, where the sun always shines and where everybody lives in little country cottages with gingham tablecloths; not too dissimilar to the recent run of McDonald’s adverts. They want us to believe that these chickens have lived a long life, breathing fresh air and watching the sunrise over the rolling hills. Much like the aforementioned lazy git and cheap skate, they are taking the p*** (and according to this article, in McDonald’s case, the chickens are reared in close quarters in sheds in South America and Thailand).
It’s food fraud. Even if those Oakham and Willow Farm chickens, for example, are free range; the producers are still getting away with providing ‘false’ information and taking advantage of the consumers trust. We don’t need clever brands and trendy marketing.
That label can all too often say very little, yet in some cases make us believe an awful lot. We need better food labeling and tighter laws to enforce it. In an ideal world every product or packet containing meat would clearly state where the meat is from, how it was reared and when it was killed. Currently, labeling guidelines don’t extend that far, although campaigns are pushing for it.
There are some trusty little icons to look out for;
The RSPCA Freedom Food
The Soil Association
Organic farmers & growers
But beware of the Red Tractor scheme and the Lion mark, both only ensure the very minimum of food standards.
Always read the labels as best you can and join the the campaigns for better quality labels on our food. Right now companies can leave off vital information and brand their products as something it’s not. Don’t let them brand us as fools.