Thursday, January 10

Why "all natural" annoys me.

I believe that trying to eat organic food is a great thing.  A lot of people are more aware to all the chemicals, hormones, etc that are in processed food and are trying to avoid these things.  You have to be careful however, because some companies try to take advantage of people who are not as well informed as others by using the term "all natural."  This may make people believe they are making a good choice in buying their product and that it is free from chemicals, ethical, etc.  This is not always the case.

All natural is not organic.  The first thing you should understand is that, except for meat, "natural" doesn't have a set, strictly defined or regulated definition, while "organic" does.  When you see the word "natural" on food packaging, it can mean any number of different things, depending on where you live, who the manufacturer is and what store is carrying the product.  In fact, you might be surprised to learn what can be considered "natural."

Meat that is organic must be certified to meet stringent standards. The animals must be born and raised on certified organic pasture and fed only certified organic grain and grass. They can never receive any antibiotics or hormones, and they must have unrestricted access to the outdoors. These guidelines are subject to third-party verification and Organic Pesticides A unique two-way systemic control.

Standards for labelling meat as natural are much less stringent. "Natural" meat merely means that the meat is minimally processed, without flavorings, coloring, preservatives or synthetic additives. Note that this does not include hormones or antibiotics, which are permitted under USDA regulations, although individual producers may voluntarily choose to forgo use of these as well. The regulations do not address the animal's food or environment--there is no requirement that the animals have access to the outdoors, nor are they forbidden to consume animal byproducts. There is no third-party verification or tracking of natural cattle or other herds. They can be processed in factory feedlots.

So in other words, just because your meat comes with a little green leaf in the corner and new paper-bag coloured packaging doesn't mean that it's organic, ethical, and the same as your free range chicken farm down the road.  

This being said, eating all organic all the time can be expensive, and I believe every little bit helps.  So buying all natural beef is still better than buying mystery meat hot dogs filled with processed cheese, in my opinion.  Some people can become self righteous about eating organic, dairy and gluten-free diets and this is not great either.  If you are  sneering at people putting things in their grocery carts and running around calling everything poison you annoy me as well.