There are growing concerns about the actual ingredients in our food. With this, many people are beginning to turn to organic and locally grown foods. These days when you walk into grocery stores you’ll notice many food products plastered with stickers and labels like “farm fresh”, “GMO free”, “100% natural” and “all natural”.
Do these labels actually have meaning beyond the surface? Although many products with such labels are becoming more prominent in supermarkets and grocery stores, food producers should focus on having genuine natural options instead of using false claims as a tool to attract consumers. The main focus should be on operating in a more sustainable and socially responsible way. With these things in mind, what does 100% natural really mean and why’s it important?
It’s essential for us to understand that healthy, nutritious food is the foundation of a healthy body and well-being. The famous saying “you are what you eat”, is a testament to how important it is to mind what food sources we use to fuel our bodies. Processed foods are perceived to be less nutritious and likely to contain ingredients that may be harmful to our bodies, while natural foods are known to be fresh, organically grown foods that don’t contain chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, artificial colors, and artificial flavors.
There are claims that additives are used solely to increase shelf life and preserve foods. Take a moment to think about it, if additives and fillers come from unfamiliar processed sources, it’s only normal to assume that they’ll impact the overall quality of our food. Additionally, naturally grown poultry, vegetable and dairy products shouldn’t contain hormones or antibiotics which means these food sources are healthier and less likely to impact us negatively in the long run. At Hilltop Acres Poultry, we offer high quality poultry products that are free of wheat, gluten, lactose and fillers. We put emphasis on producing high quality, locally sourced farm fresh foods because we know how much safer people feel knowing that their food is provided as nature intended it to be.
Okay, we’ve highlighted some of the key points about processed foods and benefits of natural foods. In addition to these, there are several things you should consider as a consumer when going shopping for your food. Some of which include:
As consumers, we don’t like confusion and trust plays a crucial role in deciding what we purchase. Once we become aware that most foods don’t contain the healthiest ingredients, it’s good to become familiar with food producers in our local communities that grow the food that we eat. As we begin appreciating the wholesomeness of the foods that are produced in this way, we’ll develop a deep sense of security and reap the benefits that come from nourishing, all natural foods. If your food has travelled a great distance to get to you, it’s probably less fresh and has already lost some of its beneficial nutrients. You can read some awesome benefits of buying local here!
This step is very essential for helping consumers judge the information they receive. There’s the widely held belief that the more credible a source is, the higher the quality of the food products. This isn’t an inaccurate assumption to make as credible food producers typically have the experience and mastery of their market to make us trust the quality of food they present to us. Consumers should still thoroughly evaluate the credibility of sources because on some occasions, the most popular sources aren’t actually the freshest or healthiest.
According to Canada’s Food Inspection Agency, terms like “nature” and “natural” are often misused on labels and adverts. As a consumer, you should be on the lookout for labels that make false claims about health benefits and food quality. Also being aware is very important because it teaches consumers to take responsibility for the information they receive. When you conduct research, you’re able to differentiate between different types of information and organize them based on credibility. For example, when you turn over the package of your food and start looking at ingredients and are worried that the information you’re receiving isn’t reliable enough, you can fill that knowledge gap by going home and looking at more information online.
Another easy method to determine how ‘natural’ your food is, is to attempt to pronounce the ingredients on the label. If you find that you’re having trouble doing this, think twice before making the purchase. Chemical ingredients are usually more difficult to read out loud as opposed to the natural ingredients you’re probably already used to. Also note that’s there’s a clear difference between these chemical ingredients and the technical or scientific names for natural ingredients. With lots of practice, you’ll come to find that not every ingredient listed on the labels is in fact useful or relevant. In addition, you’ll be able to better navigate the aisles and make more informed choices.
Doing some serious thinking about what natural labels actually mean is simply a way of being conscious, responsible and smart about the food products you purchase. In order to shift your thinking further, you must also stay informed and gain a deeper understanding of the effects that added ingredients have on your food. In addition, look for food producers in your area that are transparent about their practices. Transparency shows a full commitment to social responsibility and is a sign that many ethical considerations have been taken into account by your food producer.
As you become more conscious, the decisions you make about our food should also become more important. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, there are steps you can still take to ensure that you’re in fact consuming and buying products that are from naturally derived sources. One such step is to have a process for vetting food products on shopping trips. Remember, every small effort makes a huge difference in the long run. Just because a product is labelled “100% natural”, doesn’t mean the process behind it is pure.