There seems to be a trend sweeping the nation, and it’s taking the food industry by storm through words like “natural,” “organic”, and “grass-fed.” People are paying more and more attention to where their food comes from, how it’s processed, and who handled it on its way to their table. We’re now starting to see not only what some (including myself) would argue are ethical issues with how animals are raised for slaughter, but that there are many processes in raising meat that are problematic for us as humans as well in terms of our health. More and more people are uncomfortable with the idea of their meat being raised on antibiotics, fed unnatural diets, or even kept in unhealthy living conditions.
Before we get into the benefits of eating natural foods, it’s important to define the word “natural” as it’s used in the food industry. The Merriam-Webster definition would lead one to believe that any food labelled as natural lacks any preservatives or artificial additives. While this is certainly the idea, the FDA doesn’t actually have a set definition of “natural” when it comes to foods, nor do they police the industry to make sure food is labeled correctly in that sense. In fact, this Slate article points out several products that claim to be all natural when many argue that their claims are blatantly false, and discusses why the FDA is essentially avoiding the issue. So, it’s important to realize that in order to find natural foods, you need to look beyond the sticker that says “all natural” to know whether or not you’re truly getting and consuming the level of “natural” that you want.
Now let’s list some of the many benefits.
- Natural foods taste better. With less processing, more of the natural flavor exists.
- Eating natural often means supporting local businesses. Because of the lack of preservatives, natural food decays, well, naturally, and often needs to be sold and consumed locally.
- Natural foods are healthier for you. Yep. There’s not much else to add on this one.
- It keeps unnecessary chemicals out of your body. Your body doesn’t need chemicals from the residue of pesticides and herbicides wandering around in there.
- Having fewer ingredients means less work for your metabolism. It allows your digestion to work more efficiently.
This list doesn’t even include some of the benefits of growing your own natural foods, which in my opinion is one of the best ways to go. True, this is easier said than done, especially when it comes to meat (not everyone wants to raise and slaughter their own dinner or has the resources to do so), but you’d be surprised at what you’re capable of, even with limited resources. If you have room in the backyard to plant a garden or even keep chickens for their eggs (and possibly meat), do it! You’ll feel a sense of pride in being self-sufficient, have delicious food within reach at all times, and benefit from the exercise cultivating a garden provides. Plus, if you have kids, it’s a great way to start letting them experience responsibility and the rewards that come from hard work. Even if you don’t have room to plant a garden, try growing fresh herbs in the windowsill or having a single tomato plant outside your door. Figuring out how to adapt to your surroundings is half the fun. So no matter how you end up getting natural foods, whether you check out a local farmer’s market, look for natural foods at the grocery store, or even grow it yourself, the benefits are more than worth the effort.