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Food For Thought

The Words Used To Describe Food Have Changed

A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney:

My idea of having a good time and feeling rich Saturday morning is going to the store and buying a lot of food we don't need.

Over the years, the words food companies use to get us to buy stuff have changed. The word "light" is going out of style, but "fresh", "organic" and "natural" are very big now.

The mozzarella is "natural." The pasta has "all natural ingredients." The lemonade is not only "virgin,” it has "all natural ingredients." They even claim the dog food is natural.

I called the Food and Drug Administration, and they said they didn't have any standards for what "natural" is. In other words, it's nothing.

Calling something fat-free is a huge sales point now. Never mind whether it's any good or not, it doesn't have any fat. There is even a cream cheese that just calls itself FREE.

Who wants a fat-free Fig Newton?

The cookies have "reduced fat." What do they do with all the fat they take out of this stuff?

Some milk is both organic and fat free.

There are enough different kinds of milk to confuse a herd of cows:

  • 1 percent milkfat low-fat milk
  • 2 Percent milkfat low-fat milk
  • skim milk
There is one called Skim Plus. It says it's "Real Cow’s Milk" but that's not what I'd call it. Nothing you've taken all the fat out of and added something called Palmitate to, is what I call real milk. It would be interesting to see if you could get a calf to drink this stuff.

Light Milk Parmalat. It says "less calories than milk." Well, is it milk or isn't it? Make up your mind.

They wonder why people aren't drinking milk.

The FDA makes food companies list the ingredients on every package but who can read them? One yogurt says it has 10 milligrams of cholesterol. Do you have any wild idea how much a milligram is? My dictionary says a milligram is 28-thousandths of an ounce.

"Fresh squeezed" orange juice. I think of "fresh" as meaning recently or just a little while ago. One brand calls itself Just Pik’t but it could be a month old.

They do so many weasely things on labels. This isn't chicken rice; it's "chicken (flavor) rice." That usually means there's darn little chicken in it.

Naturally cranberry; 100 percent juice. If you didn't have your guard up, wouldn't you think it was 100 percent cranberry juice? Well, it's not.

Cereal called Fruity Pebbles. Wouldn't you think it had fruit in it? Well, it doesn't have fruit in it. Pebbles, I don't know.

You'd have to invite a druggist over to eat with you to understand a lot of this.

Next Saturday, I think I'll just go to the hardware store.

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