Skeptical Shoppers: How Much Do You Trust Food Labels?

Do you ever look down at a box of this or a package of that and think, "Really?"

I know that there are supposed to be lots of rules and regulations and oversight controlling the information that goes onto packages of food, but sometimes... I just get this gut instinct that tells me this can't be right. Usually, it's when the ingredient list, nutrition information, or other labeling is telling me that the product is better for me than my senses believe.

Package labeling has gotten so confusing and so mixed up with marketing that it's hard to know what, or who, to trust anymore. I wonder if the manufacturer's definition of "preservative-free" is the same as my definition. I have trouble deciphering organic labeling. I even start to question an initially positive reaction to a well-marketed product, worried that I'm just being sold on something without being told all the facts.

Am I being paranoid? Maybe. Probably. Even so, most of the time I trust my instinct and put the package back on the shelf.

What do you think?

Related: Conscientious Cook: Which Foods to Buy in Bulk

(Image: Emma Christensen)