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Truth In Labeling: “What’s In A Name? Most Likely, An Attempt To Create A Phony Product Image”

Originally posted by
on FoodIdentityTheft.com, January 15, 2013

The real Chef Boyardee in a 1953 commercial

“Homemade goodness,” “real,” “fresh,” “natural” –  in the magic of marketing lingo, these are appealing words worth a lot of bucks. Even better is to have a founder, preferably one who goes back a few decades, when food was more ‘real’ than it now is, to pitch a product with their likeness and homey words.

I’m guessing most of us know there really is no Green Giant or Pillsbury Dough Boy, but what about the names and images of supposed entrepreneurial epicures attached to food products? Does featuring a culinary creator make for superior quality or is it just another device to entice shoppers?

Marie Callender’s: Okay, there actually was a Marie Callender who baked pies in the early 1940s and by all accounts was a real American success tale, turning her pastry prowess first into pie shops and then in 1969 to a chain of restaurants (which was sold to Perkins in 2006).

But what you’ll find in the supermarket frozen-food section seems to be another story — and don’t take the slogan on the packaging, “From my kitchen to yours since 1948,” too seriously, either.

It wasn’t Marie, but rather entrepreneur Larry Dinkin who was responsible for the marketing of Marie Callender Retail Foods, for which he was recognized in Advertising Age as one of the top 100 marketing people. Dinkin successfully steered the company from a start-up in 1987 to a sale to agri-business giant ConAgra Foods in 1994 for more than $150 million.

While the frozen Marie Callender’s line makes much of a ‘real’ Marie, showing a grandmotherly woman and kid on its website and using more buzz terms like “wholesome ingredients” and “a heritage of homemade taste,” a look at some of the actual ingredients these foods are made from don’t sound like anything a cook in 1948 would have used.

The newest addition to the lineup is Marie Callender’s Comfort Bakes, which contain the typical long list of chemical additives, preservatives and ‘nonfood’ ingredients that we’ve come to expect in such  products, the “real” Marie Callender’s legacy for being a good cook notwithstanding.

Chef Boyardee: “A real person with real recipes.” So goes an ad for Chef BoyArdee products, and yes, Ettore “Hector” Boiardi was a real chef, an accomplished one at that, who landed a job at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in 1915 at age 17. In 1924, Chef Hector and and his wife opened what proved to be a most popular Italian restaurant in Cleveland, possibly inventing the “carryout” idea by selling his customers spaghetti sauce and meatballs in milk bottles.

The Chef Boyardee brand is now another part of the ConAgra lineup, but whatever great Italian dishes Chef Hector created have since morphed into your typical multi-chemical, quasi-food products that some have dubbed “Chef MSG.”

ConAgra, however, makes the most of Chef Hector, featuring a video with some “surprised but happy faces” when consumers learn there was in fact a real Chef Boyardee. One is so excited she says, “It makes me feel better about serving it to my family because it’s not just a made-up name and made-up label.”

Betty Crocker: This brand name has become so familiar that the fact there never was an actual “Betty Crocker” probably doesn’t matter anymore. And interestingly enough, the brand, owned by General Mills, no longer even portrays the persona of the fictional Betty that was carefully developed in the 1930s and updated and used for more than 60 years, along with a so-called “Betty Crocker”  featured on a radio show that ran for over 24 years.

With the quantity of ready-made foods now in the store, including dozens bearing the Betty Crocker name, it’s hard to conceive of a time when consumers regarded such products with healthy skepticism. But according to the Encyclopedia of Consumer Brands, “during the first half of the twentieth century, convenience foods were not associated with good eating.” However,  “all that changed in 1947, when the first Betty Crocker cake mixes hit America’s shelves.”

Now, of course, it’s just a brand name, covering products from Bac-Os to Bowl Appetit, as well as numerous cake, brownie, cookie and frosting mixes. And if you’re looking to avoid partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, it might be best to take a leaf from the past and once again think of these “convenience foods” as “not associated with good eating.”

Chef Michael’s Canine Creations: In spite of the commercials; there is no Chef Michael.

“My name is Chef Michael,” says a faceless fellow in the commercial, “and when I come home from my restaurant, I love showing Bailey how special she is.” But this dude is nothing more than a figment of the marketing minds at Purina (or its ad agency). Of course if you read the ingredients for this pet food it would be quickly apparent that meat-by-products, soy flour and corn gluten meal – all found in Canine Creations –  ain’t coming from any restaurant. (At least I hope not.)

You Created a National Movement!!

Dear Citizen for Health,

Prop 37 may not have won, but you, along with us together, did!!!!!

Together we created a renewed nationwide movement that cannot be stopped!!!!

We put GMOs front and center on the national stage!!!!

Our coming together on this issue was a massive success, one that we can use to spread like wildfire in California and in every other state in the Union until we get a whole lot of state laws passed, or a national law, or both!!!!

A new movement has been created. Let’s take advantage of this historic convergence!!!!

Food labels and advertising must tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the food we and our children eat.

Stay tuned for more on the campaign to label GMOs and other issues of truth about food.

Sincerely,

The Citizens for Health Team

Why We Must Vote Yes on Prop 37

By author, activist, and concerned mother, Shiva Rose, via the Huffington Post

This month here in California, we will have a chance to know what is in our food supply. Prop 37 will require companies to label foods so we as consumers can know for certain if a product is organic or not. As a mother attempting to feed my children in the healthiest way, this seems like a no brainer. Why would it even be an issue to want to know if something is genetically modified or not?

Read the whole post here.

 

 

Marissa Mayer, Jim Breyer: Support Labeling Walmart’s Insecticide Sweet Corn and Prop 37

For Immediate Release: October 31, 2012

Sunnyvale, CA – More than 50 people rallied in front of Yahoo! headquarters in Sunnyvale, California yesterday to call on Marissa Mayer and Jim Breyer, both Silicon Valley-based members of Walmart’s Board of Directors, to support Proposition 37 and to ensure that Walmart respects consumers’ right to know about genetically engineered foods.

Walmart is selling Monsanto’s genetically engineered sweet corn which contains the insecticide Bt toxin inside the corn. Proposition 37 would require the genetically engineered corn to be labeled so consumers can have a choice about whether to eat it.

“We’re asking Marissa Mayer and Jim Breyer to do the right thing for California consumers – to label Walmart’s genetically engineered sweet corn and to endorse Prop 37 because we have a right to know what is in our food,” said Joyce M Eden, San Jose Area Volunteer Coordinator with the Yes on Prop 37 California Right to Know campaign.

The effort is supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Western States Council, which has endorsed Proposition 37. “As a UFCW member and grocery worker, I support prop 37.  I want to know what I am feeding my family. I’m appalled that a company like Walmart would sell Californians corn with insecticide built-in and refuse to tell us,” said Glen Raad, a grocery worker and UFCW member.

The two groups have bought advertisements online and in newspapers asking Ms. Mayer and Mr. Breyer to support Proposition 37, and they launched a website and an online petition at: www.MarissaAndJimTakeAStand.com

“Companies like Yahoo! and Facebook pride themselves on making it easier to share information. At the same time, Walmart refuses to give consumers basic information about what they’re buying,” said Eden.

Walmart, which sells roughly 25% of all groceries in the United States, announced this summer that they would begin to sell unlabeled genetically engineered sweet corn produced by Monsanto.

Monsanto claims the Bt toxins inside the corn will break down before the corn is eaten. Many have questioned the company’s safety claims and a number of major groceries have said they won’t sell the corn. Despite these concerns, Walmart is selling the product without a label indicating that it has been genetically engineered.

For more information on the campaign, visit www.MarissaAndJimTakeAStand.com.

Contact: Tom Fendley, 415-622-7843, tom@carighttoknow.org

Dr. Bronner’s Donates $250,000 More to Yes on 37; Time to Get Out And Vote!

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a California-based and family-owned maker of the top-selling natural brand of soap in North America, announced today that they have donated another $250,000 to Proposition 37, The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.

According to a press release announcing this from Dr. Bronner’s, “Prop. 37 has been losing support in voter polls due to the impact of relentless and deceptive TV attack ads funded by pesticide and junk food manufacturers. At the rate of at least a $1 million dollars a day the ads mislead voters into thinking that a simple labeling law is somehow a plot by trial lawyers to get rich while food prices sky rocket.”

“These same arguments against consumers’ right to know have been made against every previous labeling regulation such as calorie and allergen disclosure,” noted the release. “Despite being vastly outspent, the Yes on 37 campaign has demonstrated through internal polling that their simple ad reminding voters of their fundamental right to know what’s in their food cuts through the flak.”

“Chemical corporations are outspending consumer groups 10 to 1 in California, so we felt we had to step up with another major donation to ‘Yes on 37’,” said David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. “It’s wrong that American democracy is hijacked by pesticide manufacturers who spend vast sums of money to keep consumers in the dark. The opposition’s lies on TV will be answered this final crucial week before Election Day, while a huge grassroots surge reaches voters directly. If enough voters are reminded of their own rights and power, Prop. 37 can win.”

“Genetically engineered foods should have been labeled from the get-go in the 1990’s,” noted Bronner. “Pesticide companies genetically engineer DNA from bacteria into food crops to either produce or tolerate the pesticides they sell. Their business model is rapidly failing in the face of superweeds and superbugs resistant to their poisons. Pesticide companies like Monsanto and Dow are now doubling down and engineering resistance in food crops to much more toxic weed killers such as Dicamba and 2,4 D, the main ingredient in Agent Orange.”

Bronner added: “These pesticide companies have demonstrated they will spend any amount needed to keep the public in the dark about the secret changes they have made to our food. We have a right to know if our food has been genetically engineered, just as citizens in over 61 other countries do, including in Europe, Japan, even China. Prop 37 is just the beginning.”

Bronner said: “The writing is on the wall, win or lose we have sparked a movement. We will have the right to know in this country sooner versus later.”

Vote YES on Prop 37—today (early voting is on in California). Exercise your right to know about what you choose to buy and choose to eat. Here is information on how to vote early.

Proposition 37: “The Future of Food is In Your Hands”

We all have a right to know if the food we’re eating comes from nature or whether it was genetically engineered in a lab by companies like Monsanto and Dow. That’s why Proposition 37 is so important – it’s a label that gives us the right to know.

As my film The Future of Food describes, there are many reasons why people want and deserve the right to know about genetic engineering. That’s why I’m making my film available for free for public screenings from now until the election.

You can view the film for free, invite your friends to watch it, and read more about what you can do to pass Prop 37 here.

I encourage you to send this link to people you know who are on the fence about Prop 37, who don’t understand the incredibly high stakes in this battle to give consumers a choice about genetically engineered food.

I also encourage you to contribute to Yes on 37 in every way you can. Every dollar raised today will expand the television ad buy to get our message to voters. Donate to the ad fund here – and help us win the right to know what’s in our food!

Deborah Koons Garcia
Director/Producer/Writer
Lily Films, Inc.

http://www.lilyfilms.com
http://www.thefutureofthefood.com
http://www.symphonyofthesoil.com

What Is Proposition 37? The Top 5 Reasons You Should Care!

From Maria Rodale, via The Huffington Post Blog

You have probably seen something about “Proposition 37” or “Prop. 37”–whether it’s been on Facebook or Twitter or in The New York Times. Or perhaps you haven’t seen anything about it and, like me, you glaze over anytime there is some political something or other that seems too hard to figure out. Well, this one is easy…or let’s put it this way, I’m going to make it easy for you to understand.

Read the whole post here.

Some Valley Growers Back Prop 37

By Robert Rodriguez – The Fresno Bee
 

Supporters like Fresno County organic dairy operator Mark McAfee said opponents [of Prop 37] are using scare tactics to frighten consumers.

“The truth is that this is pro-farmer and pro-consumer,” McAfee said. “And while it may be a little anti-Monsanto and anti-processor, that is OK because they don’t feed the world, we do.”

Los Angeles City Council Endorses “Yes on Prop 37”

Cites Overwhelming Public Support; Concerns about Pesticides, Contamination of Organic Fields

Los Angeles — As supporters rallied in front of Los Angeles City Hall today, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting Proposition 37, the Right to Know ballot measure that would label genetically engineered foods in California.

 

California would join 61 other countries that already label genetically engineered foods, and Prop 37 would also prohibit such foods from being marketed as “natural.”

“It’s not often that the LA City Council votes unanimously to support a measure, but Prop 37 was a no-brainer. We have the right to know what’s in the food we’re eating and feeding our families,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, the resolution’s author. “I’m proud to be a part of this true grassroots campaign in our struggle against the biggest pesticide and junk food companies in the world.”

“We’re thrilled that the Los Angeles City Council voted to join our people’s movement today,” said Tom Fendley, political director of the Yes on 37 California Right to Know campaign. “The Council joins millions of moms, dads, family farmers, doctors, scientists, and grocery store owners in saying, very simply, that we have the right to know what’s in our food.”

The Los Angeles City Council joins the California Democratic Party, Senator Barbara Boxer, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congressmen Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, and dozens of other California city and town councils, elected officials and candidates in endorsing Prop 37.

“The Los Angeles City Council clearly did not believe the lies in our opposition’s widely discredited TV ads,” said Dave Murphy, co-chair of the California Right to Know and founder of Food Democracy Now! “They know Prop 37 won’t cost consumers a dime, because Prop 37 only requires a simple label. And they know Prop 37 won’t trigger lawsuits, because food companies will comply with this simple labeling law, just as they already do in 61 other countries.”

The world’s largest pesticide companies, led by Monsanto and DuPont, are the leading funders of the No on 37 campaign, which has raised more than $40 million to oppose Prop 37.

“Prop 37 won’t raise food costs, and most grocery store managers understand that it’s ridiculous to believe we’d be opening ourselves to lawsuits. Food companies will comply with this simple labeling law,” said Bruce Palma, general manager of Co-Opportunity Natural Foods in Santa Monica.

“As a family physician, I see patients trying to make the best food and exercise decisions for their families. At issue is the fundamental right to know what’s in our food,” said Dr. Sandra Salazar. “This is a commonsense measure, and we should promote personal empowerment of families to make healthy food decisions.”

Partial Resolution Text:
“WHEREAS, polls consistently show that more than 90 percent of the public want to know if their food was produced using genetic engineering;…”; and

WHEREAS, without disclosure, consumers of genetically engineered food can unknowingly violate their own dietary and religious restrictions; and

WHERAS the cultivation of genetically engineered crops can also cause serious impacts to the environment; for example, most genetically engineered crops are designed to withstand weed-killing pesticides known as herbicides; as a result hundreds of millions of pounds of additional herbicides have been used on U.S. farms….; and

WHEREAS, organic farming is a significant and increasingly important part of California agriculture. California has more organic cropland than any other state and has almost one out of every four certified organic operations in the nation; California’s organic agriculture is growing faster than 20 percent a year; and

WHEREAS, organic farmers are prohibited from using genetically engineered seeds; nonetheless, these farmers’ crops are regularly threatened with accidental contamination from neighboring lands where genetically engineered crops abound; this risk of contamination can erode public confidence in California’s organic products, significantly undermining this industry; Californians should have the choice to avoid purchasing foods whose production could harm the state’s organic farmers and its organic foods industry;…”

Courtesy of Tom Fendley, 415-622-7843, tom@carighttoknow.org

California’s Vote on Prop 37 Will Send a Message to the FDA: Can We Trust Our Food System?

From Natural Resources Defense Council Staff Blogger, Peter Lehner
 

Consumers have a right to know what’s in their food. And in much of the world, they do, because of government labeling laws. For example, China, Russia, and India are among the 50-odd nations that require labeling of genetically modified foods, or GMOs. Here in America, however, we can’t get information on GMO foods. That’s because chemical companies and food manufacturers have a stranglehold on the system of government oversight that is supposed to ensure the safety of our food supply.

Read more here.