Sunday, November 16, 2014

What Does "All-Natural" Mean?

As consumers we tend to trust labels because we think manufacturers would never lie to us or correctly label their products. Americans lead busy lives and by the time we enter a grocery store, after a long day, our attention is not on labels but instead on weaving through grocery store lines. Manufacturers understand this, and pay attention to the buying habits of customers, then model their products in that direction. It is cheaper to label foods, “all natural”, than it is to invest in certified Organic labeling.



“All Natural” food labeling is not restricted by the USDA. However, to be labeled organic farms have to invest in an organic certified inspector. “All Natural” does not mean certified organic by any means. The problem with certified organic foods is a problem solved by preservatives and mass marketing. Preservatives are chemicals that are added to foods to prolong their shelf life before being sold. Mass marketing is the advertising of foods that can be sold in mass quantity for a cheaper price. For example, grocery stores produce their own “generic” foods such as bread, milk, chips, and many others because they can add preservatives to their product, then sell them at cheaper prices, below that of name brand product. As consumers, this buying habit has shown grocery stores this marketing scheme is working.

As consumers, we are impulse buyers; we read titles, not labels. Life is too busy to take an extra minute to read ingredients labels, as I stated above. “All Natural” does not mean good for you, but instead good for your wallet. The point of this post is to get consumers to be aware of product ingredients. “All Natural” simply means the product has minor changes or has not changed at all. This labeling does not cost manufacturers any more money. However, certified organic costs manufacturers more money because the production of the food is more regulated. For example, fields where lettuce, cotton, and other crops are grown are sprayed for insects. Soil is enriched with hormones and additives to grow more or bigger crops. Radiation is used to increase the growth rate of crops, therefore; crops grow faster, bigger, and last longer. Organically produced and sold crops are grown using renewable sources, such as natural soil, water, and sunlight.  The shelf life of organic foods is much shorter, but also healthier. Grocery store chains, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, and Sprouts have invested in organically grown foods, and have vowed to have all of their products labeled, Non GMO by certain deadlines, which will be saved for a later posting.

“We are what we eat” and “Knowledge is Power” are phrases that have cemented themselves in our culture as we fight a battle between our wallets and stomachs. Sugar is a mineral that is used to sweeten our drinks and foods. As a substitute, manufacturers use a byproduct of corn called High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is an artificial sweetener used in thousands of foods and beverages. Although high fructose corn syrup is not an all-natural product, it is used in foods labeled All-Natural. Americans fight many ailments in their daily lives, with the understanding that certain foods may sustain their health, but not necessarily increase the strength of their bodies’ ability to fight ailments.

Americans must invest in their bodies, as we invest for our financial futures. Acquiring knowledge to sustain your body is crucial. Take a moment in your daily life to read labels and understand what is healthy and what is not. Do not trust a company because their prices are lower, trust them because of their ingredients. A good rule of thumb, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it probably is not good for you.

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