I Will Not Eat Natural! It’s Not Natural!

All NaturalYup, that is right! I will not eat natural foods. And you know what? You should not either. It is just not natural!

Hold on a second before you click away. You maybe glad you stayed.

Natural… What picture comes into your mind with that word?

I bet your picture is not petroleum products, chemicals, waste, etc. Sorry that I just messed up your whole mountain stream or field of flowers picture. We are talking about foods labeled “natural” in this picture. Let’s start with a definition of natural that to most would be natural or common sense to you and me.

A quick Google search for “definition of natural” returns the following: “existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.” That sounds about right to me, how about you? We also think of natural as something “good or wholesome”.

Problem is food companies define it differently! Here is a short video from the Chipotle Original Series “Farmed and Dangerous” that helps you to understand how food companies view natural.

That video had me rolling, I love how he defines natural. “Man comes from nature, so anything he makes is natural!” Yes this is a satire video that is poking fun at the establishment… but it actually is not that far off.


From the FDA website, this is what they see natural as on food labels.

“From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, the FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term ‘natural’ or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”


The USDA, which as we know guards our meat and poultry, defines a product as “natural” if they are only minimally processed and don’t have any artificial flavorings, colorings, preservatives, or other additives.

As you can see, the FDA’s definition does not say much. If you read between the lines it sure sounds like they are saying that if a product is processed it is not natural. Go figure… The USDA’s definition says nothing about how the food is created. So hormone growth promoters, antibiotics,and feed with animal by-products is fair game. Yet many markets label their meats, eggs, etc. as “natural”.

If you think about, it these definitions allow high fructose corn syrup to be labeled as “natural”. There is no way a person can make high fructose corn syrup in their kitchen, and I really don’t think you find it in nature. Also, if high fructose corn syrup is a natural product how is it becoming tainted with mercury. A study tested 55 HFCS-containing products and found mercury in one out of every three products. The brands of the products were big label names such as Quaker, Hunt’s, Hershey’s, Smucker’s, Kraft, Nutri-Grain, Yoplait, and Manwich. I bet you find the word natural on their labels some place.

Natural Flavors & Natural Flavoring… REALLY?

"Natural" CheetosHave you seen autolyzed yeast extract on a label before? How about hydrolyzed soy protein? These are common ingredients on many products with labeling using the word, “natural.” By the way autolyzed yeast extract, and hydrolyzed soy protein are just different names for MSG! MSG (monosodium-glutamate, a brain neurotoxin) actually has over 25 different names. Sounds confusing? Maybe that is the purpose. We are told that MSG is “natural.” My question is, “If it’s natural, why did it have to be added to the food product in the first place.” That is kind of a simple question, but think about it for a second. If MSG is a constituent of an ingredient it does not have to be listed as MSG and this is often the case when you see “natural flavors” on the label.

The FDA definition of “natural flavors” and “natural flavoring” allows for the substance to be extracted from plant, or animal sources. This could be a concern if you are buying an item labeled organic, vegetarian or vegan, and it lists “natural flavoring,” on the label. This could be pig, cow, turkey, chicken or lamb raised with growth hormones and fed GMO feed treated with pesticides.

Sorry if “natural flavors” and “natural flavoring” never taste the same again. πŸ™

Words Mean Something

Natural has been a busy word for product labeling for many years and it has just become more popular overtime. As we try to eat better and look for more “natural” foods, the word keeps popping up. A study done on what Americans like to see on their food labels showed the word “natural” at the top of the list.

Enjoy this funny video from OnlyOrganic.org about the use of the word “natural” on product packaging.

What Do I EAT?!

Well, to sum it up I think you now see that any processed food can have issues, even if it is labeled organic. Maybe it is time to return to the old ways that humans have done for thousands of years… Make it yourself!

We as consumers have to, now, more than ever, do our homework. As I tell everyone I work with, “To gain true health you have to invest your time. In the end we are each responsible for our own health.” What do you find helps you find food items that are “natural”?

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Disclaimer: The information in this post is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

About Jeff

Jeff Pearce is a board certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant and has coached hundreds of people in the Dallas/Fort Worth to help them achieve their health goals. If you would like more information about his services view the Health Consultations section. For those not in the physical area Distance Coaching is an option. A 15 minute "No Cost" informational consult is available, by phone, to chat and answer questions about services. To schedule your no cost informational consultation please contact us .

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