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Do you know what your food label is telling you?

Have you ever bought a product at the grocery store because of its label?

Fancy packaging and buzzwords catch our attention when grocery shopping.  You may be looking for specific ingredients or nutrition information, while someone else may be looking for organic produce or allergy warnings. But, what about the term “natural”? What does it even mean?

If you’ve ever bought food with the terms “All Natural” or “Natural” because you thought it was healthier, you are not alone!

We’ve all done it! Over 60%  of Americans buy products that claim to be natural and most believe that when a product says “Natural” on the label, it means that the product is one or more of the following:

  • is in some way healthier

  • has no artificial ingredients

  • has no genetic modification

  • has no growth hormones

  • has no antibiotics

  • has no pesticides

  • was processed in a natural way

The truth is there is no legal definition of the word “natural” on a food product. Unfortunately, “Natural” is a confusing and misleading gimmick that tricks the public (that’s us!) into buying a product.

The great news is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken notice and is asking the public to comment on the issue. The public comment period is the first baby step in a very long process to getting a clear definition of the term “natural.” Follow the link if you’d like voice your opinion! The comment period ends May 10, 2016.

So what can you do in the meantime to make good choices at the grocery store?

Follow these 3 simple tips:

  1. Look for terms like “natural”, “healthy”, “super-food”, and “fresh” on food labels. Don’t be swayed by their good looks- those sneaky terms don’t mean anything at all!

  2. Read the labels (specifically the ingredient list) and look up anything that you’re not sure about such as preservatives, sugars, artificial additives, and other ingredients.  It’s easier if you’re in the know.

  3. Choose as many whole foods as possible to avoid the processed food labels altogether. Fill your grocery cart with fruits, vegetables, lean meats and protein, beans, nuts, and whole grains.

Have you ever been duped by a misleading label?? What do you think the definition of “natural” should be? Chime in below; I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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