Navigating the Grocery Store Aisle


The first thing we did was gather and articulate the basic food label information we wanted to communicate to our audience through the game. We wanted to build trust and rapport with people, not suggest they should be for or against any food label or production practice. We curated science- based facts about each label and developed the key message we wanted consumers to understand about each one. We have a considerable amount of research about consumer perceptions about GMOs, in particular, which you can access in the literature review of GMO food label research. “Organic” Label Key Message The term “organic” refers only to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certification that verifies how a food was grown and processed; it does not necessarily indicate that the food has nutritional value. “Organic” Label Key Facts The term “organic” is a certificati on designation from the USDA (Agricultural Marketing Service, 2020) and has nothing to do with safety, nutrition, or environmental health. Companies cannot use the certified organic label unless they comply with and receive USDA inspection (Agricultural Marketing Service, 2020). USDA certifies only a food’s agricultural production practices. Organic food may have slightly more certain nutrients, but overall, it has a similar nutritional makeup to non-organic food (Popa et al., 2019; Crinnion, 2010; Lairon, 2010). Health benefit studies of eating organic foods found mixed results of better, no difference, or worse (Noone, 2019). Most consumers understand that all organic food is non-GMO. Consumers often associate organic with small farms, however like non-organic food, most organic food is produced by large farms, not necessarily local farms (ESHA Research, 2019; Noone, 2019). “Organic” does not mean no pesticides were used; instead, it means that producers may use natural pesticides, and they must be approved by the USDA (Agricultural Marketing Service, 2020). The standard is that organic pesticides must be natural and non-synthetic, and this does not mean they are safe. Some organic pesticides are toxic, and some are not. Copper sulfate is an example of an organic pesticide that is highly toxic and allowed in organic agricultural production. Fish and vegetable oils are non-toxic examples of organic pesticides. Studies of the environmental impacts of organic agricultural production are mixed; there is not a strong indication that organic farming is better for the environment than conventional farming, and in some instances organic farming has disadvantages because it requires more land ( Barański et al., 2014) . “Natural” Label Key Message The term “natural” means only that nothing (including artificial or synthetic ingredients, such as color additives) has been added to a food during processing that wouldn't normally be expected in that food. “Natural” Label Key Facts The “natural” label, which firs t appeared on food in the 1970s, addresses only how food is processed, and there is no certification or regulatory process for the “natural” label (Chambers et al., 2019). The


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