Thursday, May 9, 2013

“Fat Free!” That’s Amazing!

Sometimes I’m both amused and disgruntled when I see food packaging that spouts how “good for you” it is. There’s a whole spectrum of jargon used on packaging to try and get you to buy whatever it is they’re selling: “fat free”, “only 100 calories per serving”, “12 vitamins and minerals”, “no trans fat” and the list goes on.

Most any food has some attribute that can be spun in a positive manner. And while some products may actually be fairly healthy for you, the ones that make me internally groan are the ones that are obviously not so healthy but somehow they want to be on the healthy bandwagon. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this sugar-laden cereal or that buttery cracker isn’t particularly healthy (despite any starbursts of exciting “health” related information to the contrary). [Pause.] It just feels so disingenuous.

From a designer’s point of view I can see where companies are coming from; they’re trying to compete with other companies spouting the same rhetoric as well as actual healthy foods. They’re trying to draw people into buying their product that isn’t quite as “bad” as it could be (since it’s “only 100 calories” or it’s “fat free”) as to help lessen any guilt about eating their product. (Sure an apple would probably be a healthier option, but an apple doesn’t have any chocolate in it, does it?)

As a consumer I find it rather ridiculous. All you need is a little common sense to look at something and know that it’s just empty calories and has little nutritional value. Don’t get me wrong I’m not opposed to indulging in junk food from time to time. I enjoy potato chips and chocolates and ice cream, but I’d like for food packaging to be more honest about what they’re selling. If you’re selling junk food, own it—be junk food. Don’t try to pass yourself off as some sort of healthy option when we both know how little truth there is to that facade.

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