Every Sunday, I go to the Mueller’s Farmers Market for my weekly food run. There, among the Sunday sounds from a local band, the food demonstrations and the beautiful Mueller lake, I get to talk directly to the farmers who raise my meat and grow my produce. It’s an amazing luxury I have to be five minutes away from this vast local food extravaganza. I still go to the grocery store and last week we had to get some staples. When I walked in I saw a rotisserie chicken with the words NATURAL stamped across the top. I thought back to the early development of my obsession with food and how I thought I was doing well when purchasing ‘natural’ foods.
Naturally (pun intended), I began to do my research about this particular label among the others like organic, free-range, grass-fed, etc. What did natural mean? What I found was concerning. I always though if it said natural, it had to be healthy and clean. Only meat and poultry have rules from the FDA and the USDA regarding the definition of natural, but they’re not very strict. This means if you buy natural chicken the only regulation is that it is free of artificial or synthetic products. Unfortunately, it does not tell you about how the meat was cared for, raised, or what it was fed. Then once you leave the meat and poultry category, it’s a total free for all. Your big sellers, corporate food companies can put natural on their sodas or their potatoes and it means absolutely nothing. A certain pop company has a natural soda product, which has natural high fructose corn syrup and natural sugar cane extract, and natural flavoring, which could be strychnine, for all we know, but they’re all natural.
So because the companies who run this labeling business is so big, there really isn’t much in fighting, but rather educating yourself with labels, as well as any other part of the food that you’re putting into your precious body, like ingredients, how food is raised, growing techniques, how it’s handled, genetically modified . We’re constantly inundated with information and news about what to eat and what not to eat, but in the end I always encourage you to find what is right and best for you and your particular biology, physiology, mind and spirit. The more you know, the more informed decisions you can make. This is just another way of being mindful and empowering yourself to take control of your health through reading, researching and asking questions. It’s your body, you get to choose, choose wisely!