|‘Natural’ foods under scrutiny|
|Written by Ali Paulson, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, 08 December 2010 00:01|
“Natural” food could be further scrutinized by as early as 2011, forcing federal agencies to crack down on meaningless terms, according to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune.
H. Tak Cheung, director emeritus for the School of Biological Sciences, believes people do not understand what the term “natural” means.
“A couple things are considered natural. One definition of natural is to not use any chemicals other than fertilizer or pesticides on the food,” Cheung said. “People think natural means it is naturally grown, but really it just doesn’t have chemicals.”
The Tribune article warns individuals to expect labeling changes on certain consumer packages. Instead of seeing sugar or “stevia,” consumers will be seeing phrases such as “naturally sweetened” or “reduced sugar.”
“They are not changing the food, they are just changing the label. They want to take something that has a bad name and change it,” Cheung explained. “By giving it a different name, you don’t know that it is bad for you.”
Cheung stressed individuals should cook food for themselves, avoiding the purchase of processed foods.
“In the 1950s, the average family spent 20 percent of disposable income to buy food and cook for themselves and now it is only 7 percent. You would save a lot of money to cook for yourself and broccoli doesn’t come with a label so you know it is natural,” he said.
Thomas Metcalf Laboratory School basketball coach and senior physical education student Mike Donovan said instead of focusing on misleading labels it is important to get more people educated on proper nutrition and the importance it plays in our lives.
People generally consume beverages as snacks and substitute snacks for meals, according to the Tribune.
“Many people snack on the chips and cookies because they taste better, but there are different dips to add to fruits and vegetables that will take a little nutrition out of the snack but it will still be healthier than the high fat snacks we are accustomed to munching on,” Donovan added.
Donovan said a common mistake people make with day-to-day nutrition is choosing convenience over health.
“People will snack on foods that have poor nutritional value such as chips and cookies,” Donovan explained.
He added the fast-paced American society causes a majority of people to want or need their food quickly, causing them to sacrifice good nutrition to receive a quicker meal; so substituting meals with snacks could be a poor solution.
Donovan believed another solution to unhealthy living is to ensure quality physical education programs in schools and to motivate physical education in our daily lives.
“There are many physical education programs that don’t benefit the students and aren’t helping solve the current obesity problems,” Donovan explained.