A month or so ago I read an article on the Smithsonian web site about our eating habits in the United States. That article talked about the way advertising affects our eating habits and how they try to instill brand recognition and brand loyalty on everyone so they reach for the “right” brand time after time. What bothered me the most, I think, is that, according to this article and some of the other things I’ve read since, is that one of their biggest goals is to instill this brand recognition even (or maybe especially) in toddlers so they can keep people loyal to a certain label for life!
It reminded me of how a very good friend who home-canned her fantastic tomatoes and made all kinds of great things for her family from scratch. Her then grade school daughter insisted that the best ketchup and the only one she’d eat was a certain brand name product. I’m not sure if she ever did figure out that her mother was refilling that same bottle with her homemade ketchup over and over! I imagine she had to purchase a new bottle occasionally since the label surely got destroyed over time.
When we were kids, there were always some kind of fresh fruit in the house, and usually chopped up veggies in the fridge, too, and we never ever had to ask permission to eat any of that no matter how close it was to mealtime. We did have to ask if we wanted anything else, though. And I was in high school before I figured out that according to the directions on the Kool-Aid package, it was supposed to be made with a full cup of sugar, not ½ cup like we always used at home. Suzanne has her homemade pop-tart pastries, and it’s hard to beat homemade cookies with wholesome ingredients and no chemicals that we can’t pronounce in the ingredient list.
I don’t stick to certain brands on many things, but I do have a few preferences. I hope I stick to a brand because it offers a real quality difference in cleaning, baking or cooking results, not just because of a fancy label printed with some color a marketing study says is ‘best’ for the product recognition factor. From now on I’m going to be extra thoughtful when I’m shopping for groceries.
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