Natural, to me, means “nature:" from nature, a part of nature. However you want to put it, natural means that it just came out of the ground or was picked from the tree. It means you found your food by going to your kitchen garden or farmers market, taking your selections into your kitchen (preferably within hours or less), and making a meal.
Every time food is touched, modified, added to, or subtracted from, it is no longer as nature intended.
Simple, no? Yes and no. Am I a raw food proponent, someone so ascetic that even heating foods seems an anathema to "natural?" Absolutely not. I appreciate good cooks, and cooking, as much as the next person. And I am practical: I agree that not everyone (yet) can eat foods that haven't been processed and packaged in a myriad of ways. But that doesn't justify slapping the word "natural" on most foods we find in the markets today.
Recently I asked you to add your voice to the current debate on which food products (per the FDA) can use the word “natural” on their labelling and advertising. The meaning of “natural” is currently under review by the FDA and if there was ever a time to express your opinion, it is now.
You can learn more about the issue in greater detail here in Wellness Warrior. The FDA is asking for information and/or opinions via the following three questions:
Is it appropriate to define the “natural?”
If so, how should the FDA define “natural?”
How should the agency determine appropriate use of the term on food labels?
Here’s my letter, below. If you agree with my thoughts, you can cut and paste all or part of this letter and submit it as your own at the FDA comment page of Regulations.gov (put FDA-2014-N-1207 in the search field if necessary). Of course I encourage you to write your own letter if you so desire. Please share it with Wellness Warrior in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
This comment period is set to end on February 10th 2016, so don’t delay!
Thank your for your concern and support,
Founder, Wellness Warrior
My Wellness Warrior Letter
Dear Commissioner Ostroff,
Thank you and the FDA for examining the use of the word “natural” on product labels.
I agree with the opinion of Consumers Union that the FDA should not allow the word “natural” to be used on product labels. The label can often be misleading and therefore should be banned altogether.
If the word is allowed to continue in use, then I believe that it is necessary to reject the Grocery Manufacturer’s proposal to include genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
I also propose that the label standards include the following:
- No toxic pesticides used during agricultural production
- No artificial materials or chemicals used during processing
- No artificial ingredients or colors used during manufacturing
- No GMOs at any point in the process
In addition, in the case of meat and poultry:
- No antibiotics or other drugs
- No growth hormones
- No GMOs, artificial ingredients, antibiotics or other drugs included in the animal feed.
These items are outlined in the Consumers Union 2014 Food Labels Survey as the popular consumer conception of what the word “natural” means. In order for the “natural” label to not be “misleading” or “false” as presented in FFDCA (21 USC §343(a)(1)) it is imperative that the label uphold the above standards.
Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter.
Founder, Golden Door, and Co-Founder, Rancho La Puerta
Former advisory board member President’s Council On Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (to four different U.S. presidents)