What Does 'All Natural' Really Mean?

What Does 'All Natural' Really Mean? Well, on its own... not much! On our latest Scavenge-ology episode we discovered the details behind what this term means when you see it on a food package.

When you're on a healthy eating journey, 'all natural' labels may catch your eye in the grocery store. These can be found on pre-packaged snacks, meats, dairy products, and many more. However, the FDA does not actually define or regulate the term 'all natural' or 'natural foods'. On the FDA website, the FDA acknowledges the fact that this term is not regulated!

Granted, some artificial ingredients are not always detrimental to your health goals. For example, Folic Acid is an artificial form of B Vitamins. So while this is artificial, it is not necessarily a threat to see on an ingredient list. Overall, all natural does not necessarily mean no additives.

While there is no definition given by the FDA, they share that the term is only accurate if 'the food does not contain added colors, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.' Since this is not formally regulated, we (the consumers) are left to trust the food manufacturers, marketers, and industry.

If you are new to healthy eating and see 'all natural' on a product, you may add it to your cart without a second glance. However if you are weathered in this space, you may be more likely to read the ingredients list or nutrition label.

Natural does not mean organic, or that animal products were ethically raised. These are both factors to consider when shopping. You can reference our Scavenge-ology episodes with Hunter Cattle to learn more about what it really means to have ethically raised animals. Reinventing the food chain and treating animals right is something heavily focused on here at PrimalRock GroceryHouse. You can read more about our standards here. All natural foods can also be high in fats, calories, or sugar. This label does not mean anything for the nutrition statement of the food.

So how can you ensure you're choosing healthier, cleaner products?

When it comes to produce, you can shop organic! The FDA does not regulate the term organic on food labels. There is the National Organic Program (NOP) which is a federal regulatory framework that governs organically produced crops and livestock. The USDA oversees the program and then enforces the NOP regulations and standards! Food products labeled organic must comply with both NOP regulations and FDA regulations for food labels and safety.

 When it comes to meats, fish, or poultry consumers can seek out lean cuts and minimally processed meats. Sausage and bacon tend to be more processed, but for all meats you can research the brand to determine whether the animals are humanely raised.

When it comes to pre-packaged foods like crackers, cookies, or snacks it is important to read the ingredient list. This goes for cereals and other pre-packaged foods. You should also pay attention to the sugar content and serving size. It may be easier to shop at stores like Whole Foods or Fresh Market, or the gluten free/'natural foods' aisle at your local store. Some snacks and cereals feature food dyes and artificial colors. Mindful brands will use beet juice or other alternative ways to sweeten or color their foods!

If you want to take the guesswork out of grocery shopping, look for brands and virtual grocers like PrimalRock GroceryHouse! Our banned ingredients list and other standards can be found on our website. We do the hard work for you, and you can always be sure your products are clean, ethically raised, and good for you!

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