Iowans are known for their common sense and clear-headedness. National marketers know that. Politicians know it. Heck, the whole country looks to Iowa to help determine the candidates for president.

So, it’s not all that surprising that in a recent survey of shoppers in the state, the Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index® found that a majority of Iowans believe that marketers of plant-based imitation products shouldn’t be able to use the terms “meat” or “milk” on their labels. It just makes sense to Iowa shoppers that real meat and milk come from farm-raised animals, no matter the labels food companies dream up for the products they concoct in some laboratory.

Using the words “meat” and “milk” on the imitations is sort of like labeling one of the old junkers I drove in college as a Cadillac. The label may say one thing, but a trip down the street would quickly reveal the truth.

There’s another thing about Iowans: They know that high quality meat and milk are produced by animals that are well-cared for. And they trust Iowa livestock farmers to do just that.

The Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index found that nearly 9 in 10 (86 percent) Iowa shoppers surveyed said they are confident farmers care for their animals responsibly, unchanged from the results when that question was asked a year earlier.

Yes, plant-based proteins are getting a lot of buzz these days, and some consumers may opt to buy them. But that doesn’t mean companies should be allowed to label these imitations as meat or milk.

As Iowans clearly know, you just can’t slap a label on something and pretend it’s the real thing.

By Dirck Steimel. Dirck is the News Services Manager and Spokesman Editor for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.