The Myth behind “Natural”

The natural and organic food movement has proven itself to be here to stay.  What started as a ‘trend’ has now become over a $90 billion enterprise according to Natural Food Merchandiser’s website.

Consumers are tired of the nutritionally void, commercially processed, fake foods that line store shelves these days.  However, be very leary of foods labeled ‘all natural’.  This phrase can mean just about anything as it isn’t regulated by the FDA.

Food labeled Natural is Big Businessnatural1

From $1.9 billion in 1980 to $37 billion in 2011, sales in the natural products retail channels have come a long way, according to the Natural Foods Merchandiser’s Market Overview.

Whole Foods Market and UNFI are the top runners in the distributing of these foods.   However, their sales report show their ‘natural’ foods are selling at twice the rate as the products labeled ‘certified organic’.

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Most consumers, while shopping in stores like Whole Foods, are purchasing natural products with the perception they are healthier choices.  This simply is not the case.

What’s the difference?

“Food labeled ‘natural’ does not contain any artificial ingredients, coloring ingredients, or chemical preservatives, and, in the case of meat and poultry, is minimally processed.”  {source}.

But naturally labeled foods can still contain GMOs and natural flavors, which as we’ve pointed out on this site before, can be anything from castoreum (which comes from beavers anal glands) to carmine (which are crushed up cochineal bugs).  Are they natural?  I suppose.  But do you want them in your food?usda

Certified organic foods are certified by the USDA that animal products were grown without the use of hormones or antibiotics and produce was grown without synthetic chemicals and/or pesticides.

The Deception

Companies are telling you exactly what you want to hear and it’s no accident.  There have been countless hours of countless marketing people watching our every move when it comes to the foods we buy and why we buy them.  Ever notice how the front package of products is constantly changing?  First it’s low carb, then it’s high fiber, now it’s all natural.  They are following what consumers are currently buying and they change their packages accordingly.

Meanwhile consumers think they are getting healthier foods but what they are really doing is paying premium prices for the same garbage in a different package.

What can we do?

  • Educate yourselves on what the word ‘all natural’ really means.  Google it.  Read the labels and if you see anything that’s is NOT natural then it’s not a natural product.  Or better yet, just as a blanket statement, DON’T BUY NATURAL PRODUCTS, BUY ORGANIC.
  • Please support your local farmer’s market.  I can’t stress this enough.  Get out of the supermarket and visit your local stores.  They will TELL you where they get their food from and how it was raised or grown.
  • If the product was made from corn or soy chances are it has been a genetically modified product.  Again, NOT natural.
  • We need to shift the dollars we spend from foods labeled as ‘natural’ to certified organic or  better yet, straight to our local farmers.  Period.  The almighty dollar is what rows the boat.  Let’s see what ban wagon these marketing geniuses will follow next.
  • Look for products that are labeled NO GMO instead of ALL NATURAL

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