What Does “Natural” Mean?

Photo Source: Consumer Reports

I came across this site on Consumer Reports which argues against use of the word “Natural” on food labels.

What does “Natural” mean? In July 2019, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) said this:

Currently, no formal definition for the use of “natural” on food labels has been issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Natural” means nothing. Rather, it means whatever the food producer wants it to mean. To me, it falls into the same bucket as “wholesome.” Can you think of other terms?

An aside … That Consumer Reports’ site also said:

Consumers care a lot about how their food is produced, and they have some specific concerns. Based on the survey results, most told us that they want their food produced in an environmentally friendly way, and they look to labels for cues as they make their decisions. When purchasing food, they want to support local farmers. Their other concerns include finding food that’s locally produced. And most are even willing to pay more for food to ensure that it was produced in fair working conditions.

Tell me … what people are buying a loaf of bread or some pasta caring that it was made with wheat that was locally grown? Or a cup of coffee or tea? Are people not buying tomato sauce because it was produced in unfair working conditions? When people go to a restaurant, do they ask if their burger came from a local cow? I don’t know these people. Where are they? I’m not saying sustainably-raised food and fair working conditions aren’t the goal. They are. I’m saying that many people are not in a position to base their food buying decisions on these factors. This survey is not cross-sectionally representative.

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