The Times West Virginian

Community News Network

November 20, 2012

Slate: Government shouldn't regulate which foods are 'natural'

(Continued)

Supporters of Prop. 37 called this a distraction from the law's intent — a sloppy wording that could be ignored in practice. Still, the hiccup called attention to the fact that "natural" doesn't have a simple definition or really any definition whatsoever. Almost all the food we eat has been altered by human hands, if not intervened with in some major way. It may seem obvious that lab-made species in particular are inauthentic, but what about crops derived from millennia of careful breeding and isolated from their "natural" forms by countless generations? Or what about crops that do occur in nature but are then processed in a factory to squeeze out all their oil or their sugar — are they still natural?

In practice our assessments of what is or isn't natural have as much to do with habit as they do with biochemistry. A survey released last week, of 4,000 people in eight European countries, found that lots of people would rather eat more "natural" foods — 74 percent called these products healthier, and 72 percent said they'd pay a premium to get them. But respondents didn't have a consistent sense of what the label means. Some seemed to think that foods prepared in standard ways — the ones they're used to having in their pantries — have a special status. That could be why they said dried pasta is a natural food but worried over powdered milk, despite the fact that both are made by dehydration.

Notwithstanding this lack of clarity, the move to banish "natural" claims from genetically modified products extends far beyond last week's lawsuit and California's referendum. The People v. Goldfish is just the latest of at least half a dozen cases against the food industry filed in the last few years on behalf of those who felt deceived and hurt by false assertions of authenticity. Last summer, lawyers sued General Mills over the nature of its Nature Valley granola bars. In December, a lawsuit pointed out that Frito-Lay's Tostitos and SunChips are not in fact "made with ALL NATURAL ingredients," unless you think that genetically modified grains are natural. Last year, plaintiffs also targeted the GMOs in Kashi breakfast cereals and the genetically modified "all-natural corn" in Kix. ConAgra was accused of making dubious "natural" claims on four varieties of Wesson cooking oil, all of which derive from genetically modified crops.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Featured Ads