Photo: Couple with Fresh Garden Vegetables

Natural foods, what are they, and why are they good for you? Unfortunately, there are no commonly agreed upon national or international standards that formally define and regulate "natural foods" or "all-natural foods." The natural products industry defines natural foods as foods that contain no hormones, antibiotics, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives that were not in the original food, and are foods that are minimally processed—either mechanically, chemically, or by temperature. This definition therefore excludes foods derived from new artificial processes such as genetic engineering or cloning.

Additionally, at Down to Earth, we believe that the best natural foods are also ALL VEGETARIAN.

When it comes to the ingredients listed on the labels of food packaging, a simple rule to follow is that, if you cannot pronounce, have only seen or heard of it before in chemistry class, or if it is a combination of letters and numbers, don't eat it! These ingredients are often chemicals, synthetic additives and preservatives that collect in the fat tissues of your body, increasing in toxicity over the years.

The importance of opting for "natural" ingredients goes beyond food. The use of vitamins, herbs, and dietary supplements is important to help improve your health and well-being. Ideally, you should choose supplements that have no artificial binders or fillers, and are made from natural ingredients and which contain no synthetic chemicals. There’s no point in taking supplements to improve your health if they are loaded with potentially harmful ingredients.

To help you adopt a natural lifestyle, we suggest that you always prefer:

• Grains and grain products that are minimally processed and have not been bleached or bromated.
• Prepared foods that are free of artificial sweeteners, flavors, additives, colorings, and have minimal preservatives.
• Eco-friendly cleaning and personal care products for the household.
• Natural bulk foods, which help protect the environment by reducing packaging and allow you to purchase the amount you want while saving on unnecessary packaging and marketing costs.
• Organic foods, which are the most natural foods as they are grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers etc. and are produced in a sustainable manner.

Natural and organic foods are good for you, good for your family, and good for the environment.