The descriptive ““conventions”” used on food labels are always evolving. Today, however, the changes are so complicated (partly driven by legislation requiring disclosures about environmental impacts, health issues, and geographical provenance) that these labels more often baffle buyers than enlighten them. In a light-handed manner, the article points to how sometimes reading label language can be like deciphering runes——and how if we are familiar with the technical terms, we can find a literal meaning, but still not see the implications. The article could be ten times longer because food labels vary according to cultures——but all food-exporting cultures now take advantage of our short attention-span when faced with these texts. The question is whether less is more——and if so, in this contest for our attention, what ““contestant”” is voted off.

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