So, we're still working on setting up our whole online store, and we're looking around to see what others do - what we like, what we don't like, what catches our attention, and the things we would appreciate if we were on the customer side of things...
One thing I've noticed is a lot of little stickers on website products - colourful icons or labels that help customers identify particular traits of a product that may be important to them. For example, a specialty bread product that is gluten-free with a nice little sticker that clearly states it as such.
(at least that's what I'm calling them based on Google search results, please feel free to correct me with proper terminology)
No one in our family needs gluten-free, but I can see how this might be a helpful feature for quick reference shopping; so, I started to pay closer attention....
Some - helpful. Others... RIDICULOUS!
I'm checking out meat products, of course, and some places are putting "Gluten-free" stickers on their steaks... Wha?! I'm thinking that if people know enough to watch their ingredients list for all the obscure wheat biproducts that might contain gluten... I bet they know steak isn't a problem. Do we honestly need stickers for this? (And it begs the question - do people somehow add gluten to their raw cuts? Maybe helpful in sausages with added spices, but for your T-bone..?)
Or putting a 'Keto Friendly' sticker on a chunk of raw meat... yup. I think that if someone has put enough time and energy into learning about a keto diet and what it entails - I bet they know steak works for them.
(Just for the record - we sell frozen raw beef - no seasoning, no extras. So even if I picked a juicy steak that has spices for a photo - I'm just speaking to the issue of raw meat sales here... we can all agree that some spice mixes from stores have gluten derived ingredients - )
In a sense, I feel like it's a little insulting to customers to overstate the obvious this way.
Also, there is so much overlap and duplicity on these stickers, it makes me realize how far away we have gotten from our food and farmers. We don't really understand the process and terminology anymore, so we need a lot of validation and encouragement about making good food choices.
For example, I just want to put "Certified Organic" on ours. Clean. Simple. Done.
To me, by putting that stamp on our products it automatically negates the need for 'Pesticide Free', 'Hormone Free', Antibiotic Free', 'GMO Free', and a slew of other ones I see floating around.
People can create a defense of just about anything nowadays. Raw meat products are inherently dairy-free and gluten-free - and since it's a biological product it's biodegradable, but generally speaking, there are some valid reasons not to put it in your compost bin at home.
I could argue that meat is plant based because cows eat plants, so... why not? Just stick that label on there too!
I think the GMO Free and Pesticide Free stamps are more valid because they inform the customer of details they couldn't possibly know without being informed somehow by the person or company that made the product. This is solely based on a trusting relationship though - because you need to know that the person making the claim is honest about it... and it a world where so many aren't, this can be tricky!
Lots of 'feel good' labels can be, and have been, misused, since many of them don't have strict certification policies or are nearly impossible to accurately trace and enforce. Words are sometimes being used to mislead, rather than inform.
Firsthand experience: I had the opportunity to walk a 'cacao farm' in Guatemala years ago, and the farmer sold his beans for chocolate to a major corporation that marketed them as "Fair Trade"... still does to this day. That farmer said he hadn't seen a price increase in 20 years... So, I don't really trust the stickers myself - which makes the decision to put them on our website way too much of an internal debate... so much so, it's spilling out here!
But, if people want to know that certified organic means all those other things too... then, I guess I can put the stickers on.
Still, I'd prefer a simple barn tour and a handshake. You want to know what organic is, I bet we can explain it to you a lot better than a sticker.
If you made it to the end, I'd love to know what you think. Are these "eco icons" helpful for you as you shop, or do they make you roll your eyes?