As we move to wanting natural, organic, free range, virgin, first-press… products the question always arises:
How can you be sure that you are actually getting what you paid for?
There have been a plethora of news stories outing fake products including fake olive oil, fake honey, Dr Bronner’s suing companies over using the natural title on products that aren’t natural and the ongoing yellow shea butter vs. white shea butter debate. So with all this slight of hand and dishonesty in labeling how can you as a consumer inform yourself on what you are actually buying?
- READ THE INGREDIENTS. Don’t simply fall for product marketing, read the ingredients list and ask questions. If you see an ingredient you don’t recognize do a google search and figure out what it is or email the company.
- GO DIRECTLY TO THE SOURCE. Or as close as you can. When buying vegetables for example those grown locally will always be better than a crop shipped from another country. Talk to the grower at your farmer’s market and ask them questions about how they grow and harvest the crop, type of pesticides used, where the crop came from, etc. Also ask others if they have done business with the grower and what their experience was like.
- IF IT SOUNDS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS. Organic oils/butters are expensive and can run you $ 10-20 as most are imported from other countries. Do your research and get a sense of the market rate for a product. If you see someone selling way below market costs it is probably fake.
- ASK QUESTIONS. And then ask some more once those are answered. If a company is in a particular industry they should be knowledgeable about the industry standards and practices. If they brush off your questions or get defensive chances are they have something to hide and I would not trust them.
- CONTACT COMPETITORS. There is no better way to get the low-down on someone then to ask their opponent (just check out all the negative political ads we see during election season). Sample questions to ask a competitor are: What makes your product better then company X? Company X claims to use 100% of blah-blah-blah, do you use the same? Your product is half the price of company X, does that mean it is of lower quality?
While you are only as informed as the information that is available following the steps above will help bring you closer to the truth and hopefully keep you from falling for the okey-doke.
Look… me and the McDonald’s people got this little misunderstanding. See, they’re McDonald’s… I’m McDowell’s. They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds. ––Cleo McDowell, Coming To America