You see the word “natural” plastered all over the grocery shelves . . .
All-natural cereal . . . 100% natural fruit drinks . . . natural supplements . . . and natural skin care . . .
Many of us think the word “natural” on the label is the best indicator of quality and wholesomeness.
Can we tell that a product is wholesome because it says on the box or bottle that it’s 100% natural?
Some descriptive terms are defined by law or by regulation. “Organic”, “100% whole wheat”, and “whole grain” have all been defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
But except for meat and poultry and a few minor ingredients such as colorants, “natural” is still undefined when it comes to food.
The FDA has declined to define natural for foods. The FDA has hinted at some standards by stating it "has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”
But the reality is – “natural” is a term that can be tossed on a label without meeting any standards at all.
In fact, natural products can contain genetically modified organisms (GMO), pesticides, herbicides and high fructose corn syrup. They can be developed in a lab . . . and they can be heavily processed.
So, as it stands, it’s up to you to come up with your own standards of “what is natural.”
You need to ask yourself how you define “natural.”
- Does it mean all the ingredients listed are ones you can recognize (not three syllable chemical terms)?
- Does it mean it has no artificial flavorings or sweeteners? What do you define as a natural sweetener? Does high fructose corn syrup count? Or does it mean no added sweeteners?
- Does it mean it is something you could pretty much make in your kitchen without any special processes?
- Does it mean “organic” – grown without herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers?
- Does it mean absolutely no genetically-modified organisms in it?
- Does it mean whole grains? What level of processing is acceptable?
- Can it have preservatives – even natural preservatives?
Think hard about what you’re looking for in a natural product and why you want these standards.
Once you have a clear definition, you’ll be better prepared to find the products you consider natural and wholesome.
Read labels carefully to see how they compare to what you’re looking for. Accurate labeling will help with this.
But then you need to go one more step . . . and this step can even provide a shortcut for finding natural products . . .
Get To Know Which Manufacturers Strive For Natural
A few manufacturers, like NOW®, are always working to create good natural products.
NOW® has made this discussion of what is natural a central part of its product development process. We've defined what we mean by natural. Our food scientists, biochemists, nutritionists and other members of our product development team are constantly evaluating our products by our standards. That means we have to look carefully at every ingredient innovation and formulation change with a scrutinizing eye.
Check out Aaron Secrist's Trip to China.
Want to find out more about how we define what is natural . . . and how that translates into the products you find on store shelves?
Click here to find out how NOW® defines “what is natural”.
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