Educated Grocery Shopping Continued..."Natural? Can it Really Be So??"
Have you ever wondered why on gummies and some candy items there will be a claim such as “contains natural ingredients!” I know that whenever I see an item that is absurdly hot pink or some crazy hue of green it can’t possibly be natural ! And here comes one of the most undefined, least understood, and most convoluted term…NATURAL.
I mean anything can really be natural right? Natural sunshine? Natural Shampoo? Natural diapers?…and the list goes on. But in terms of edible items, according to the USDA there is actually no definition for the term natural. In the area of meat and eggs there is little mediation on use of the term natural specifically applying to no additional coloring or artificial additives. Other items in the grocery have no parameters for the use of this term.
If I had to boil down the meaning of the word natural to a concise definition it would look something like this:
least amount of processing
no added color or artificial ingredients
But the truth is, the term isn’t always used to communicate this information. Chances are you will see the label natural on more things in the grocery store then there are types of bread! Companies take the liberty of applying the label to have a consumer draw in. That means us. They want to put out bait. Something to get us to look twice…turn around…and put the item in our cart. After all it’s natural, isn’t it?? Or at least according to that company it is.
Has anyone ever heard of Naked Juice? It turns out that they are actually owned by Pepsi. A few years back in 2012 there was a class-action lawsuit filed against them. The claims were for deceptive language. They were using the language of natural BUT it had GMO ingredients without any mention of it anywhere on their product or their website.
Your first question might be, what does GMO mean anyways? Here’s the break down:
Non-GMO means genetically modified organism. Typically this refers to a plant or an animal made through the involvement of genetic engineering.
If a product is organic it will be non-GMO since that is part of the USDA Organic labeling criteria.
To be qualified as a non-GMO product the certification is through the Non GMO Project. Keep in mind it is not a government agency, but rather an outside agency that has made Non-GMO awareness and products their mission. Their method is to go through each ingredient in the product and to check annually through testing.
We have concluded or grocery store terminology for now. Don’t worry we will come back to this again! There is a never ending list of terms and labels that appear on items and new ones almost every year. Staying informed and being a knowledgeable consumer is always our goal.
Next up we will be delving into the topic of lunches! Get ready for some tips, tricks, and examples of what to pack in your child’s lunch.