It looks innocent… but it’s not

Okay, so you’ve been trying your hardest to cut out processed foods from your diet.

You’ve been heading to the produce aisle and avoiding the centre of the grocery store. If you do venture that way for a few items, you are checking ingredient labels like crazy. You know that most food preservatives, additives, sugars, dyes, artificial flavors and colors aren’t healthy and should be avoided.

You feel like you’ve finally got a handle on what’s healthy and what’s not in the world of boxed foods.

Well, maybe not. And here’s why.

Scan to the bottom of the list on an item that appears to be fairly healthy and without too many weird additives. What do you see there?

That sweet, innocent sounding, yet enigmatic ingredient lives there on the labels of practically all processed food items – the innocuous “Natural Flavor”. What does that even mean?

Unfortunately, natural flavor is anything but natural. It’s just another umbrella term used by the food industry to trick us into thinking we aren’t eating something bad when we actually are. The worst part is that natural flavor falls under some technicality which relieves the food industry from disclosing anything about what is actually contained within it.

Too bad because often the natural flavor contains more chemical ingredients than are listed on the food item itself.

Why They Are Allowed to Lie About Its “Naturalness”

The reason they are allowed to call it natural is because whatever it is that they derived it from was natural to begin with. Maybe it was a plant – maybe it was the fluid from a beaver’s sweat gland. If it started as natural, there is no need to mention how many horrible chemical processes that it went through before it made it’s way into your mouth… right?

Don’t feel bad – I’ve completely overlooked the ol natural flavor as guilt-free until now. Although I have to admit – I once, long ago, had someone tell me it that these silly additives were not as innocent as they looked and I decided to ignore the tip off.

But recently, my boyfriend and I have become big tea drinkers. Herbal tea that is (as caffeine is bad for stress and acne!), and we are always trying new brands, flavors, and medleys. Recently we came across two that we absolutely love called “Bengal Spice” and the other one is “Cinnamon Apple Spice”. The problem was that they were too delicious – usually tea is not naturally sweet, but these were just lap-it-up nectarous.

Suspiciously I looked at the ingredients again, and sure enough, it contained at least three different “natural flavors”. That old tip off I had received, long pushed to the back of my brain, jumped forward and I decided that this was fishy and needed to be investigated.

Sure enough – we’re suckers! The food industry strikes again – and they fool even the most health conscious of us by disguising these menaces with such cute names. We see artificial flavors, we put it back. We see natural flavors? Well it’s natural right?

What harm could it do?

If you do decide to consume some natural flavor once in a while… I’m sure you’ll be okay. We all consume some chemicals – it’s unavoidable in the 21st century. But the point is to not continue thinking these things are innocent and benign. The food industry would like us to stay ignorant at the benefit of their profits. Don’t let them fool you!