Families learn to navigate food labels to find better nutrition

It’s easy to feel lost in a grocery storewhen trying to make sense of the myriad terms used to describe what’s in each can, bag orwrapper. With muddy or non-existent regulation on food labeling, buyers can easily feel overwhelmed by the meaning of “organic,” “non-GMO,” or “free-range.” To help consumers make more sense ofthe industry jargon and marketing sleights-of-word, a team of researchers and Extension educators from the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources GMO working group teamed up with the New Mexico State University Learning Games Lab to create an interactive activity called “Unpeeled: The Case Files of Maya McCluen”to help answer some of these questions.“Unpeeled” is part of a project called “Navigating the Grocery Store Aisle: Understanding Food Marketing Labels,” made possible by a grant from New Technologies in Agricultural Extension (NTAE) program and the Extension Foundation. The team used data from consumer surveys to target key areas that respondents identified as being unclear, which the game is geared toward addressing. Unpeeled begins in a grocery store where detective Maya McCluen meets a perplexed shopper named Cody who is trying to decide which orange juice to buy, but he can’t easily compare them because he does not know what the “non-GMO” label means.Players continue through the game, finding cluesand discovering facts about food labeling and GMO crops. The purpose of the game is not to sway consumers to buy, or not to buy, any particular product, but rather to instill knowledge of what the labels mean and not be thrown off by marketing lingo.

Link to full statement on website: https://landgrantimpacts.tamu.edu/impacts/show/5539