I do most of my grocery shopping at Whole Foods now - partly because they have a lot of organic and/or interesting food, partly because they claim to promote fair trade, etc. in various ways, partly because it's a 5 minute walk from my apartment. (Though it comes at a cost; it isn't called "Whole Paycheck" for nothing).
Some of their products go way off the deep end in an effort to appeal to hippies and new agers. You'll know them when you see them, because they claim a whole lot of vague health benefits followed by an ever-telling asterisk. For instance, this bottle of Kombucha sitting next to me states:
- Immune system
- Appetite control
- Weight control
- Liver function
- Body alkalinity
- Cell integrity
- Healthy skin & hair
I had no idea my pH balance was all outta-whack and my cells were ready to spontaneously fall apart (any more than they're supposed to)! The label also claims that it contains "detoxifiers" on the front; if they were something real, they would be labeled appropriately in the ingredients list. Years of listening to Loveline, I've heard the sagely Dr. Drew say numerous times: "what is a 'toxin'? There isn't any medical definition I've ever heard."
Inevitably, somewhere else on the package, you'll find:
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
(It looks like US drug marketing laws are good enough that companies can't make unfounded medicinal claims without including this disclaimer. Unfortunately, it probably doesn't matter much to the target audience.)
Sometimes the checkout lines are slow, so I've invented a game to pass the time - I try to find that statement on as many of their impulse buys as I can before I get to the front. Usually magazines are the only items that don't have it.
At any rate, I wish said businesses would be more honest and have a bit more integrity. I'm sure when they claim that key ingredients "combine to create an elixir that immediately works with the body to restore balance and vitality" (emphasis mine), they think they're just flowering up "you may feel energized after drinking this". But I really wonder how much unscientific hype your average consumer needs to see before they start believing it.
I think a scientific study is in order.