From food to furniture to clothing, more and more goods are showing up in stores with an Amish label attached to their name. The problem: Most of these goods are not Amish and are, in reality, being created without the input or knowledge of the Amish people.
"This is certainly nothing new," said Brad Igou, president of the Amish Experience, which provides tours of legitimately Amish-owned and -operated businesses in Bird-in-Hand, Pa.
"The word Amish implies honesty, integrity and well-made durable goods," he added as explanation for the popularity of the term. "People who don't do their homework might be buying things that are not Amish-made."
The term "Amish Country" is popular among companies that are not selling the genuine article because it refers to a geographical location rather than to the people themselves, according to AmishAmerica.com.
The website quoted one Amish entrepreneur as saying, "I see this in the food industry. There's quite a few organizations here locally that will sell using 'Amish.' And what they're trying to do is create the perception that it does come from Amish producers, when it doesn't. They don't explicitly say so, they just say 'Amish Country' this, 'Amish Country' that. … 'Amish' is big, 'Country' is small. So, the customer that buys this, his perception … is this comes from an Amish farm or an Amish producer."
Aside from watching it being made or knowing the producer, there's no way to know for sure. One of the best signs, however, is also the most counterintuitive.
"Most of the time," Igou said, "Amish do not use the term Amish in the name of their business."