That’s because “natural,” in legal parlance, means nothing. The Food and Drug Administration has never defined the term. Granted, many companies heed the FDA’s suggestion to limit the use of the word “natural” to those foods that do not contain preservatives or other additives. Still, the fact that a food is additive-free does not necessarily make it more desirable.
Health-conscious consumers would also do well to keep in mind that eating “natural” foods does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with following the prudent, low-fat diet most health professionals now recommend. Take, for instance, Quaker 100% Natural Cereal, containing “wholesome ingredients” like rolled oats, rolled wheat, honey, nuts, and cottonseed oil. It sounds good, but a quarter cup – hardly enough to make a dent in your cereal bowl – chalks up 130 calories, 42 percent of which come from fat. Compare it to other cereals in the breakfast aisle, most of which provide only about 100 calories and 80 percent less fat in a serving that’s two to three times bigger.
The same message serves for many so-called natural snack foods. “Totally natural” Smartfood popcorn, for example (a favorite in New England), is made of air-popped kernels sprayed with natural corn oil (what’s unnatural corn oil?) as well as mixed with cheddar cheese and is touted as a “wholesome” product that provides “natural fiber.” The result: a snack that contains 160 calories, more than half of which come from fat, in just one ounce. In other words, it has as many calories and as much fat as most potato chips contain! Smarter food for calorie- and fat-conscious cheese popcorn lovers would be air-popped popcorn from their own kitchens.
Vol 9 Issue 3 Page 3