“All Natural” or all lies?

Well, I’m back. It hasn’t quite been a year – so I’ll take that as a victory.  I’m back now because I was injured at the gym and have nothing better to do than watch a lot of TV, and accordingly, see a fair amount of television commercials that have really been grinding my gears – one of the most provoking – a commercial for Land O’Lakes spreadable butter.

all-natural

Now, before I go all paleo-crazy on you all, let me tell you that I used to use the stuff all the time: it’s convenient, it tastes good, I get it.  However, what bothered me the most about this commercial was the marketed “all-natural ingredients” used in this butter.  The commercial then zoomed to the side of the package where all the ingredients were listed, which the actress knowingly bragged about knowing how to pronounce each one.  The commercial did not keep the focus on the text of the ingredients for long, but it was long enough for me to see a big bold not-exactly-natural ingredient: Canola oil.

Yes, we can all pronounce canola oil, and yes we have probably all consumed it and become familiar with it, but does anyone even really know what Canola Oil is? Let’s see- olive oil comes from olives, grape seed from grape seeds, coconut oil from coconuts…I’m sorry but what in the world is a canola??

The truth is that Canola oil comes from Rape seed (yes that’s the actual name) and originates in Canada – the name is for “Canada Oil”.  There is much debate about whether this product is toxic in itself – many people argue it is good for your heart because it is lower in saturated fats than olive and coconut oil, but others argue that because it was created from cross-breeding, it is inherently dangerous and unfit for human consumption.

Regardless of whether this product is inherently dangerous or not,  90% of canola oil in the United States contains Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Yikes. That is a HIGH percentage, and I’m not exactly sure that anything containing GMOs should be labeled “all natural”, or marketed as such, but the truth of the matter is that it’s happening, and we need to be aware of it.

So what do you do? Things that are labeled “all natural” simply aren’t, and how are you supposed to know what’s safe to consume, and how are you supposed to afford all that organic food? Well first, here is a nice list of all the big food companies who put up a hefty sum to stop GMO labeling in the United States – a good start would be to avoid foods manufactured by these companies. Yikes. Guess who’s on there – Land O’Lakes. I’m guessing that the canola oil in their spreadable butter is NOT GMO free.  (I do not know this for a fact, but I’m just making an educated guess).

Many of us are making New Year’s Resolutions – be healthier in 2014, eat better, exercise more, whatever it may be. A good place to start is with your own kitchen. I know it’s hard. It can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! Buy from local organic farmers, shop at small stores you trust instead of the big retailers who are simply looking to save the most money by buying cheap ingredients. Most of all BE CAREFUL with the words “all natural”.  Some companies are taking this label off of their products because consumers have learned that they can still contain GMO ingredients, but many are still using the “All Natural” label, because people trust it more. Don’t be fooled! Look out for the most common genetically modified ingredients (corn, beet sugar, canola oil, etc.) Also, if you can’t afford to eat all organic produce to avoid GMOs and harmful pesticides, take a look at the Dirty Dozen list to see where you can and can’t afford to buy non-organic. Also shop small where organic produce isn’t as expensive as at a large retailer where they buy for bargains on their produce and rely on customers looking for a better deal (and more pesticides and GMOs).

You must make your own decisions about what you put in your body – nor the government nor I can tell you what is and is not safe. But be smart, be well, and be healthy! And take a look at this awesome kid’s science project to help you with your decision. Happy 2014!

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