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Natural Foods 101

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Boulder Canyon Natural Foods has been producing great-tasting, all natural snacks for over 15 years and is taking the leap with our first blog. The Boulder Canyon blog will be both informative and fun with some inside looks into the life of a natural food producer. Therefore, it seems only fitting to begin with our answer to one of our most frequently asked questions: “What does All Natural mean?” Seems like a simple question, but for most people the answer doesn’t come so naturally.

According to FDA policy, “natural” means the product is free from synthetic or artificial ingredients. The USDA agrees that food can only be labeled “natural” if it contains no artificial flavor or flavorings, coloring ingredients, or chemical preservatives. They also state that the product should be minimally processed. Instead of using artificial flavors, the food is made with only natural ingredients derived from natural resources. You might be thinking, “Well, doesn’t everything have to essentially come from natural resources?” Not exactly. Some ingredients are made in a lab while others come directly from the earth. For example, soybeans and corn provide lecithin to maintain consistency, and beets provide beet powder, used as food coloring.

To fully appreciate natural ingredients, you have to gain a better understanding of their arch nemesis: artificial ingredients. Processed foods are full of them. Artificial color additives are used to make processed foods appear fresh and appealing. According to Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation II, the food coloring Titanium dioxide can be found in processed candies, frostings, and icings to make them appear bright white. It is also used in women’s cosmetics, as well as white oil paints and house paints. Not exactly the ingredients I am looking to put into my body. Schlosser also points out that certain chemicals can make processed food taste like just about anything. For example, methyl-2-pyridyl ketone can make something taste like popcorn, and ethyl-3-hydroxy butanoate can make it taste like marshmallow! Well, I’ll let you in on a fact that Boulder Canyon customers have know for years: Our potato chips are from …… potatoes and our oil is from sunflowers and our salt is from the sea. And if you’re eating Rice and Adzuki Bean Chips, they’re made with rice and adzuki beans – not some chemical called mycardboard-4-real.

One of artificial ingredients’ greatest villains is MSG, monosodium glutamate. MSG has been known to cause extreme headaches, reproductive disorders, endocrine system imbalances, appetite control problems, and nervous system disorders. If you’re not careful, MSG will take over your diet, whether you’re eating healthy or not. It disrupts your appetite control system so that even when you’re physically full from eating, your brain tells you you’re still hungry. Don’t let MSG take over your body and make you overeat. Show MSG who’s boss by eating natural foods to help your endocrine system return to its natural, healthy state. Furthermore, processed foods in general do not help build healthy bodies or brains.

We know it’s hard to decipher what is truly natural or healthy, but products like Boulder Canyon and along with natural food retailers are working hard to make it easier. In addition to being a catchy phrase, “You are what you eat” does offer a high degree of truth. Read nutrition labels and scan down past calories and grams of fat to the ingredient list. Look out for monosodium glutamate, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and other scary artificial ingredients. The less artificial foods you eat, the healthier you’ll be and “naturally” you will feel better.