We all instinctively gravitate towards the concept of purchasing and consuming only natural food Consuming natural food is our comfort blanket in times of uncertainty, our surety in times of doubt, our fool-proof option when everything else around us is in free-fall – and let’s face it there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding something as natural as wishing to eat a natural diet.
Contrast the words “natural food” to “synthetic food”, “artificial food” or even “man-made food”. The later are an unhappy marriage of words grating on the familiar like static on the airwaves. The word food sits uncomfortably and awkwardly alongside synthetic, artificial or invented. Proprietors of invented, artificial, synthetic and man-made foods understand this only too well, which is why they brand, market and pitch their artificial, synthetic products as … natural.
“100% artificial cream” or “All synthetic sweetener” or “total GMO corn” is unlikely to find many takers. Nor, indeed, would “nitrate maize”, “test-tube tomatoes” or “fossil-fuel fennel”. Which is why we find so many convenience foods now branded as “natural” and “organic” when, in reality, they are laced with hidden artifice and phoney, unnatural additives.
We all know that branding artificial, synthetic food products as “natural” is baloney yet the fraud is legitimised and authorised by regulatory bodies both in Europe and North America. Surprisingly, to date, no one has figured out how to halt the hoax. Governments and food regulators alike are either complicit in the racket or inept at finding a way out of the quagmire.
Neither the supposed guardians of our food – the FDA or EFSA, nor eminent judges have found an acceptable definition of what exactly we mean by “natural” food. Not even the brilliant food writer Michael Pollan. In a recent piece penned for The New York Times, Pollan concludes “it’s impossible to fix a definition of “natural”. Pollan is right to assume that not all cultures, societies or religions have a common understanding of what is meant by “natural law”, “natural relationships” or “natural immunity”. The later are subjective and susceptible to cultural sensitivities making a hard and fast definition of “natural” all but impossible. You can bet your bottom dollar, however, every single global community – regardless of religion or cultural traditions – will understand exactly what is meant by “natural food”. So why is it so hard for our politicians, regulators and judges to find a common definition?
In the United States alone there have been over 200 class action suits against the food industry for branding their products as “natural”… and still the pranksters continue to peddle their “all natural” forgeries.
Some of my favourites cases include “All Natural” diet bars laced with maltodextrin, potato maltodextrin, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, and soy lecithin. Stevia in the Raw®’s “All Natural zero calorie sweetener” with a miniscule amount of rebaudioside A, a highly processed substance which results from a multi-step process that requires the use of toxic chemicals is yet another classic. Or how about, sodium acid pyrophosphate (also known as disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate) found in Safeway’s and Open Nature’s “100% Natural Multigrain Waffles”.
To flush out the rat in the kitchen and cut out the rot at the heart of our modern diets it is imperative that this generation define exactly what we mean by natural food. At present the food industry is writing the plot with regulatory agencies happy to accept the script. The story line bamboozles us with complicated science, statistics, studies and unfathomable peer reviewed literature. The regulators repeat, parrot fashion this mantra and justify their acquiescence by wheeling out “science” as the guardian of the truth when the truth is that many scientists are either blind-sided by their own art or else have prostituted themselves for a stake in the rewards.
In the meantime the ordinary consumer of modern foods is left bewildered. According to the FDA, EFSA and food industry script:
soy protein concentrate,
soy protein isolate,
sodium acid pyrophosphate,
disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate,
the active substance cyhalofop (variant evaluated cyhalofop-butyl);
the active substance pyraflufen-ethyl; and
the existing MRL for thiram in avocados
(to name but a few of the common food chemicals found in our modern diet) are perfectly “safe”.
Age-old foods such as butter, lard, salt, bacon and red meat, on the other hand, are suspect?
Since neither the judges, nor the FDA, nor the EFSA nor governments are prepared to stick their neck out and define what we mean by natural foods Master in the Kitchen is going to have a bash at it.
A definition for natural food.
Only traditional foods grown, reared and harvested according to traditional practice can be defined as natural foods. By traditional food we mean all foods that have never had a proprietary owner under intellectual property law. The only exception to the later are some foods which have resulted as a result of natural mutation, where an “owner” has observed the changes in nature but had no hand in prompting the change.
For any regulators, lawyers or judges who may just happen to stumble across this site you can read my piece for euperspectives.com on why the prior art in patent law offers a perfect way in which to establish whether a food is natural or not and thus safe for the consumer.
Do not expect the law of food regulations to change any time soon. Owners of unnatural foods are fighting tooth and nail to retain the rights to sell their phonies to the unsuspecting consumer. In the meantime, the everyday cook can vote with their feet and reject the market for fake foods by preparing their own home-made dishes compiled of natural, traditional, age-old ingredients. None of us would be in the least bit interested in adding sodium acid pyrophosphate to our home-made waffles. Master in the Kitchen has some excellent recipes and techniques – some familiar, some not – to guide you on the way. I only list foods that qualify as natural under the definition outlined above. None of my recipes include ingredients that have been patented in the past 100 years.