The 2016 Dairy Strong Conference was able to serve as a host for the United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s (USFRA) latest installment of Food Dialogues, a comprehensive discourse on food production between a panel of food industry experts. This group of panelists was asked to focus discussion around the controversial topic of sustainability.
One panelist was Lauren Linsley, RDN, CD, a dietician manager for the Wisconsin supermarket chain Skogen’s Festival Foods. Lauren’s unique role in the food industry allows her to work and engage directly with consumers. She is responsible for creating innovative nutrition programs for consumers, as well as collaborating with a variety of community groups, including health care systems, schools, government agencies, area businesses, non-profit organizations and universities, to help community members learn ways to shop smarter in the supermarket.
During the panel discussion, she brought up several common misconceptions she hears from consumers in regards to food labels that market their product as “sustainable,” and how that has skewed public perception about the nutritional content of certain foods. She sat down for an interview after the panel, and discussed some of these misconceptions, their consequences, and how she is working to combat them.
“When we’re out in the community we often get questions surrounding the idea that something labeled as organic or wild caught or grass-fed is always more nutritious than something that is conventionally grown, and that is just simply not true,” she said. “An organic apple has the same nutrition profile as an apple that is conventionally grown.”
While these marketing tactics began as a way to promote these niche markets, Lauren explained several negative consequences that have begun to emerge in response to the heavy marketing of organic, grass-fed, and other products that label themselves “sustainable.”
“There are so many marketing claims out there, there are so many documentaries that present false information, and it breeds this fear-based marketing, and it makes people confused,” she said. “A lot of people want to eat healthier, they want to feed their families, they may be trying to do it on a budget, but they simply don’t know how, so our job is really to cut through those marketing claims and find good food to help them feed their families, whether it’s focused on nutrition or financial concerns.”
Listen to my full interview with Lauren here:
Interview with Lauren Linsley, RDN, CD, Festival Foods