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We Are What We Eat

The Origins and Current Legal Status of “Natural” and “Organic” Food Labels

The cook plays an important part in the nourishability of food. Meals which are lovingly preparedwith a profound desire for the welfare of the eater always benefit the body and mind more than do meals which are commercially prepared, or which have been prepared by someone who is indifferent to ordislikes the proposed eater. No one should cook when in a state of indifference, agitation, sorrow or anger.

From The Hidden Secret of Ayurveda, by Dr. Robert E. Svoboda

The most famousgastronome of them all, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, wrote in Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante (1826): “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” For some, such asAdelle Davis — Time magazine characterized her as “the high priestess of a new nutrition religion” in December 1972 — the consequences of our food choices are stark: “As I see it, every day you do oneof two things: build health or produce disease.”

How do we know if we are supposedly building health, rather than unwittingly producing disease by what we consume? We resolve what economists call“informational asymmetry” by relying on food labels, brands and trademarks to confirm the authenticity and quality of our foodstuffs. But making “correct” food choices can be daunting and baffling. Inher groundbreaking book, What to Eat, Dr. Marion Nestle estimates that there are around 320,000 food and beverage products available in the United States; and that the average supermarket stocks about30,000 to 40,000 of them.[1] While we may not understand the true origins or makeup of what we put on our tables, most baby-boomers can tell you in a heartbeat that Rice Krispies go “snap, crackle andpop,” Lucky Charms are “magically delicious,” and Wonder Bread helps “build strong bodies in 8 ways.”

Two of the most symbolic words in food promotion nowadays are “organic” and “natural.”...
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