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Posts tagged ‘natural’

What to do when companies deceive you – Yahoo Finance

This is a snippit of an article I read today, I can’t say it better:

“All Natural”

As businesses compete for eyeballs at the grocery store, they increasingly rely on aggressive marketing practices to entice shoppers to open their wallets. Food makers are especially prone to over-exaggerating nutritional benefits of their products for a simple reason — people are willing to shell out big bucks for it. The natural and organics food business brought in $81.3 billion in 2012, up 14% from the year before.

The problem is that while the U.S. Department of Agriculture actively polices “organic” claims on food labels, the Food and Drug Administration still hasn’t gotten around to clearly defining the term “natural.” As a result, food makers are free to slap the label on their products, but consumers can’t be sure the food is actually “from nature” as claimed. Arguably, any food, no matter what garden or local greenhouse it came from, is “processed” the minute it’s put in a box and shipped to stores.

It’s not that these foods are inherently unhealthy, but the fact that they’re often being sold at a premium and marketed as “better than” other alternatives is what irks regulators and consumers alike.

If you want truly natural foods, your best bet is to look for “100% organic” labels. By law, organic means foods weren’t made using pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, or genetically engineered ingredients. But make sure to look for “100%” on the label — the USDA allows products to be labeled organic even if they aren’t entirely made using organic ingredients.

If you’re just worried about eating overly processed foods, the folks at EatRight.org have a nice set of guidelines on what ingredients to keep an eye out for on food labels.

“Weight loss fads”

The $61 billion weight-loss industry is also rife with opportunities for marketers to over-promote the “fat-blasting” power of certain products — from vitamins and supplements to exercise equipment and so-called “fitness-wear.” In January, the FTC fined a handful of health and beauty companies — including L’Occitane and Sensa — $34 million for allegedly making false weight-loss claims about products such as slimming body lotions and powdered food that was supposed to make people eat less.

If a weight-loss product promises it makes losing weight “quick, easy and effortless!” chances are it’s a sham. Anyone who’s ever killed themselves on the treadmill to shed a pound a week will tell you there are only two ingredients needed for weight loss: sweat and discipline, both of which are free.

The FTC cautions against trusting “before and after” photos in ads as well, as there’s no easy way to prove their legitimacy. See its guidance on “Weighing the Claims in Diet Ads” before buying into any weight loss product sales pitch. They also have a good Health & Fitness buying guides with tips on how to spot misleading advertising.


For Snapchat, which has attracted millions of users based on its promise that the photo messages they send “disappear forever” and that their information wasn’t being collected, the FTC’s ruling is particularly jarring.

We could write volumes on the issue of consumer privacy in the age of Big Data (and we have). In a nutshell, we’d take any company’s promises to keep your personal data completely private with a large grain of salt.

If you carry a smartphone, chances are at least some of your apps are tracking you in some way. You should take time to adjust your privacy settings in each app by tapping into your phone’s privacy settings. The latest iPhone and Android updates also offer a new feature that stops apps from using ad tracking, which allows them to tailor ads to you based on your browsing history, but you’ll need to turn it on yourself. To do so, tap your “settings” icon, scroll down to ‘privacy’ and find the tab labeled ‘advertising’. Turn ‘limit ad tracking’ on.

via What to do when companies deceive you – Yahoo Finance.

Natural and Healthy

Is natural healthy and vice versa?

I’m really bothered by almond milk, and milk substitutes in general. After reading up on almond milk, it bothers me less than it did, but it still seems silly. It is almonds ground with water, then strained. If you love milk and can’t drink it, why switch to a substitute, as there is lactose free milk? As far as lactose free not being natural, it’s no more unnatural than grinding nuts with added ingredients. Commercial almond milk has added calcium, vitamin a and vitamin d added to make it more compatible to cow’s milk, as well as carrageenan and sugar. Almond milk has little protein. One website claimed it was a good source, with 1 g of protein. Then bread is a fantastic source with 4-6 g! I used to drink soy milk, but all the concerns about the phyto estrogens, and the thought that it was every bit of a processed food as milk, I just take lactaid and drink low fat milk.

Are milk substitutes natural? What is natural? How much processing can still be natural? More importantly, should we care, as long as it’s healthy?

I just “processed” milk by making yogurt. I took the whey and “processed” grain with it by soaking it overnight. I did both to make healthier foods. My vegetables are cooked with added ingredients, even my homegrown kale is dried and ground for convenient storage, or blanched and frozen. Unless you are eating raw meat and fresh vegetables from your garden, you are eating processed food. The question is, what is that processing doing, and what role is that food fulfilling? We have to process foods to store them, otherwise they’ll rot.

james-herriot-2-all-things-bright-and-beautifulI’m not an organic fanatic by the same reasoning. I believe our modern interventions make for much healthier animals. I grew up reading James Herriots books, he was a vet around WWII, and he talks about how many animals died because they could do nothing to help them. When they discovered sulfa drugs, and later antibiotics, many animals were saved. Should we throw out the ability to save an animal’s life simply because we’ve gone overboard and given them on a daily basis? There has to be a happy medium between doing nothing and dumping chemicals on everything. I’ve seen pictures of what “fly strike” can do to sheep, and I wouldn’t stand by while the animal suffered that.

There are those who believe that there are “natural” solutions. Vinegar. Is that natural? Does vinegar occur in nature, at a consistent 5% acidity? If we extract the nicotine from the tobacco plant to kill bugs, is that “natural”? So is what we really mean “safer”? I think most people equate natural with safe, but I contend arsenic and cyanide are natural. So are snake venom and poisonous plants. I think we need to really think about things on an individual basis, rather than have blanket rules.

What do you think? What sort of lines do you draw? How hard is it to decide what to worry about?

If it sounds too good to be True….

Wendy’s announced a new “Natural cut fries with sea salt”. It sounds healthy, but as the this Yahoo article explains, they can only go so far.

the company’s product development team found a way to leave the potato skins on, make the fries crispier and give them a much tastier flavor. What they didn’t manage to do, however, is make the fries an actual all-natural product. That, says CMO Ken Calwell, would be too difficult given fast food customers’ demands for items that are cheap and can be hoisted through a car window.

While they are not steaming off the skin, they are pre cooking, freezing, spraying with sodium acid pyrophosphate, dusting with dextrose, and, finally, cooking them in vegetable oil containing dimethylpolysiloxane, to prevent the oil from foaming. So much for natural. If you want natural food, you have to cook it yourself. Which is a healthier way to live, and will prevent much overeating, as you then have to take the time to do so.

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