Evolution of “Natural” on Food Labels

We may be seeing the end of “natural.”  With no true meaning — and FDA recently declined to define “all natural” food —  this may be the beginning of the end for this label claim.  There’s been many high-profile abuses of the term (with lawsuits), and now there’s this campaign from the organic industry…which is all helping to put a nail in the coffin of natural.



So what’s the next natural?  It could be “simple” (or some variation of the term), which is the approach taken by Pepsico. Instead of “natural”  Cheetos, you can now buy “simply” Cheetos.

According to the folks at The Hartman Group, the next evolution of natural, organic and local may get down to seeds — or truly how food is grown. They say there’s been a rise in seed preservation to ensure diversity: the “antidote to soul crushing mediocrity.”  Chef Sean Brock, evangelist for the Southern pantry and owner of Husk and McCrady’s, says

The secret to delicious food is good dirt and plant varieties.

That’s where heirloom and heritage comes in, along with the reviving of old foodways. Today’s modern agriculture is getting a bad wrap, as many people believe that the narrow variety of commodity crops grown today are less tasty and nutritious compared to heirloom and heritage foods. Cultural uniformity is no longer a marker of quality, but signifies the plague of sameness, says Hartman.  So how is that coming to life?

Renegade Microbakers

josey baker bread

Fresh milling is gaining popularity — and that’s what is going on in bakeries such as Josey Baker Bread. The claim is that on-site milling preserves enzymes to promote proper digestion. So the fears of gluten may disappear as long as the bread was freshly milled.

Bringing Terroir to Beer

michigan malt

Micro malt houses, like this one in Michigan, is making it possible to enjoy truly local beer. This organic farm provides malt and barley for craft brewers and home brewers interested in making a more “authentic and environmentally sustainable product.”

Farmer Chef Connection

Dan Barber is a chef and owner of several restaurants including Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York. Food and Wine Magazine named him one of the Best New Chefs in 2002. In May 2009, he was named to Time Magazin

Perhaps no one embodies this spirit more than Dan Barber, who crossbreeds vegetables for nutrition, taste and profitability.

So what do you think? Are you over the term of “natural” on food labels? What’s the most meaningful to you?

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