When you browse the shelves at your local grocery store, you may have noticed that more and more products contain the dubious label “Natural” or “Natural food”, or contains “Natural ingredients”.
Morning and evening news programs are loaded with stories about the latest natural food craze, best natural foods for weight loss, making sure you consume those natural vitamins etc… This raises a good question, that seems to never be sufficiently answered:
What is Natural Food?
According to the Oxford dictionary, Natural is: “existing in or caused by nature, not artificial, uncultivated; wild (existing in its natural state), in the course of nature; not exceptional or miraculous…”
The same dictionary defines Food as: “a nutritious substance, esp. solid in form, that can be taken into an animal or a plant to maintain life and growth…”
It is safe to assume then that combining these together would create a plausible definition that most people could agree on, therefore, Natural Food would be: ‘a nutritious substance that exists in its natural state, as found in nature (wild), created by natural processes which can be consumed for the purpose of maintaining life and growth’.
Here lies our problem: the USDA and FDA do not have a clear definition, or any definition for that matter, of what the term Natural or Natural food is, nor do they have any laws that pertain to food labeled as Natural or Natural food, or any other Natural label…
Thus, the system in the United States relies on companies to be “honest” with their labels, which in effect means if they lie or are caught lying, there is nothing the Government can do about it, and we the consumers must trust that the companies are being honest!
Recently, Consumer Reports completed a study that involved more than 80 different processed foods containing corn and soy, and found that: “Almost all products with corn or soy and labeled as natural actually contained GMO ingredients. These processed foods included: cereals, chips and infant formula. (rt.com)”
This may come as a surprise to many, as most people believe that “Natural” means non-Genetically Modified Organisms/ingredients.
Consumer Reports also stated that:
“In more than 60 countries, manufacturers must label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. But GMO labeling isn’t required in the U.S. Yet our survey found that 92 percent of Americans want genetically modified foods to be labeled. And concerns about the potential health and environmental risks of GMOs coupled with an unwillingness on the part of the federal government to mandate labeling are leading many states to take action on their own.”
If you are asking why is the US not one of these 60 countries, the answer is Monsanto, Dupont and Dow to name a few! These mega corporations have spent billions of dollars fighting labeling laws in all 50 states, with television, radio and print advertisements with the same message “Say No to GMO labeling laws”. Look at the funding for your states politicians and you may find sizable donations to their election/re-election fund from these same companies!
For now, the only way to be sure that you are not consuming these dangerous and UNNATURAL GMO ingredients is to buy, as much as possible, food labeled USDA Organic. Another option is to purchase from a local farmer that uses organic farming practices but may not be able to afford the outrageously expensive Organic certifications. You can also, purchase Trader Joe’s private label products which they guarantee/claim does not contain any GMO ingredients. Unfortunately, some of the ingredients in Whole Foods 365 label have been found to contain GMO, however, they have set a goal to be GMO free by 2018.
As always, your first line of defense begins with what you buy and eat, second, support your local farmers markets, befriend local farmers, grow some of your own food, and keep the pressure on your representatives to require GMO labeling laws along with adopting a proper definition of “Natural”.
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