Remember when the term “natural” started to become problematic ?

“Natural foods” and “all natural foods” are widely used terms in food labeling and marketing with a variety of definitions, most of which are vague. The term is often assumed to imply foods that are minimally processed and all of whose ingredients are natural products (in the chemist’s sense of that term), but the lack of standards in most jurisdictions means that the term assures nothing. In some countries, the term “natural” is defined and enforced. In others, such as the United States, it has no meaning.

Now a similar pattern is being seen in the use of the term “craft beer”.

For years, home brewer Evan Parent claims he bought Blue Moon beer for friends and family, safe in the knowledge it was independently brewed and handcrafted. But then the San Diego beer aficionado says his friends told him his “craft beer” was something different.”Blue Moon is not a craft beer, but rather a mass produced beer made by MillerCoors,” Parent says in a California class action lawsuit.”Through its false and deceptive marketing, [the company] misleads consumers to believe that Blue Moon is an independently brewed, handcrafted beer.”

So, just what is a craft beer and who, as producer of beer, can claim the term ?

CBC Radio’s On The Coast beer columnist Rebecca Whyman says people like to know where their money is going.

“I just want people to know where their beer comes from. The craft beer movement’s really about integrity and honesty and transparency. In the tasting rooms, you can actually go and meet the brewer. You’re not going to get that from a macro-brewery.”