The peaceful farm scene on the bag of crackers labeled “natural” looks as if the crackers were plucked from the cracker tree, at least thats what manufactures want you to believe, and millions of Americans are believing just that, natural must mean healthier.
It’s assumed by most consumers, that natural means no hormones, antibiotics, additives, food coloring, or synthetic substances. But given that the U.S. has no standards or a proper definition (other countries not only have a definition, but enforce it as well) for the word when referring to food, the word “natural” assures, well…nothing.
Natural is now a vague marketing tool alluring consumers into believing one product is superior over another. Maybe a particular product is, but with no regulations, who’s to know. So much so, that a very large portion of consumers (way over 50%) will actually purchase a “naturally” labeled product over its counterpart.
It’s difficult to come up with a proper enforceable definition when so much of our soy and corn is genetically modified (and in everything) and highly processed foods are almost the norm vs the exception.
But don’t get too comfortable because companies are pretty hip to avoid any scepticism. Terms like “simply” and “pure” are in line to replace the term “natural.” Always keeping us guessing (or maybe dazed) and confused.
And definitely don’t assume “natural” means “healthful.” Those two don’t go hand in hand. Chips are still chips and contain excess fats and cookies are still cookies with too much sugar (and who knows what else).
The take home: First, cook more and second, cook with more wholesome ingredients and avoid processed foods. Therefore you can avoid being the next Sherlock Holmes when it comes to deciphering food labels.
The best foods are the ones that make no claims.