As 2010 approaches (quickly, I might add), I know that many peoples' "resolutions" involve finances. Unfortunately, unless you have the right resources and time to research products, prices, and campaigns before you buy an item, many people fall into the trap of trusting a store or advertising campaign a little too much. This was recently brought to my attention by Mom Select (BSM Media) when they sent me an email about an Enfamil formula court case.
Apparently, the makers of Enfamil "engaged in false and misleading campaigns against PBM’s competing store-brand of infant formulas, suggesting they do not provide the same nutrition as Mead Johnson’s brands." PBM Products, LLC, is a leading company that provides store-brand infant formulas to stores like Target, Walmart, Sam's Club, and Walgreens among others. Their false advertising involved direct mailings to parents insinuating that unless you were using Enfamil (as opposed to other formulas), your child would not be receiving adequate nutrition and would have developmental problems. Yikes! A full press release of the case and verdict is available here.
The truth is that the nutritive content of both Enfamil and PBM formulas is the same. Of course, neither even remotely compares to the nutrients and benefits of human breast milk, but paying 50% more for one type of formula over the other gives you no benefit.
How many people blindly followed that false advertising and decided to buy Enfamil instead of PBM as a result? I would imagine that a lot of people probably don't pick up comparable products and read every single ingredient and nutrition information to determine which item to buy. I do, but that's also why it takes me a year to go grocery shopping when I have to buy something new.
The same philosophy of being a smart consumer applies to a lot more than infant formula, though. My family receives WIC--a supplemental food program that provides specific food items to infants and pregnant or breastfeeding women. One of the food items is jarred baby food (which I, of course, would NOT buy on my own since I firmly believe you can provide your child with better, more natural nutrition by preparing your own baby food). You are given the choice between Gerber and Beech Nut, but are limited to the jars with only single food items and without any additions (including DHA or an "organic" label). What have I found out? Beech Nut products are better! They contain less additives than Gerber, but who would have thought unless you took the time to compare? Everyone knows the Gerber baby, so that's the jar most people reach for first. Remember, product recognition means nothing more than a good advertising campaign. It does NOT mean a good product.
Nutrition isn't the only reason to compare, though. It's ingrained in a lot of us that buying in bulk will save you money overall. Did you ever take the time to calculate the ounce for ounce savings, though? Most of the time, you won't need to because grocery stores will put the total price and also the price per ounce, pound, or count on the shelf's label. Take a moment to compare the price per ounce (or other method), and you'll find that buying the larger box of cereal or bigger bag of sugar does not always equal savings! Surprising, I know.
My point in sharing this information with you is to encourage you to take the extra few minutes to really know why you're buying an item. If you want to save money and live healthier in the New Year, this is one practical way to do that!
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