We don’t eat cereal in my house. Nutrition experts like Sally Fallon, Marion Nestle, and Ann Marie Colbin, all say that they are nutritionally inferior foods and should not be eaten. Cereals have very good marketing – they make us think they give us all the vitamins and nutrients we need to start the day off right. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot of foods in the grocery store are labeled as “Natural,” and most people believe that this label means something. A label with “Natural” on it should not be confused with “Organic.” Organic actually has a legal definition and companies cannot label something with this word unless it lives up to the definition. In this video they mention that most consumers believe that the label “natural” means that there are no pesticides and GMO’s but that is surely not the case.
The USDA website lists the exact definitions of the words used on food labels. This is the definition of organic on their web site:
Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. These methods integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.
The USDA definition of Natural is below:
Natural. As required by USDA, meat, poultry, and egg products labeled as “natural” must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. However, the natural label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to processing of meat and egg products. There are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products if they do not contain meat or eggs.
The last sentence is the key. Natural food products are not held up to the same standards as meat and eggs when it comes to the “Natural” food label. That means that cereals, crackers, cookies, granola bars, and any other packaged foods that have the word natural on it does not mean anything. They could (and probably do) have pesticide residue and genetically modified ingredients in them – which is far from Natural.
Issues like this are infuriating because people are trying to buy healthy foods when they buy something that says natural but they are being fooled by the big food companies. People shouldn’t have to read every little piece of fine print on every box in the grocery store to make sure they aren’t getting any pesticides or GMO’s. The only way to really stay away from these things is to only buy Organic foods, and even better only buy un-packaged foods.
It is unfortunate that consumers need to do so much research on food just to make sure they are getting chemical free food but this is the reality of the system. Staying informed on food labeling is very important for you and your family’s health.