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TIME Ideas: "It’s Time for the FDA to Define ‘Natural’"

05/04/2016 News Release Image

TIME Ideas: "It’s Time for the FDA to Define ‘Natural’"

Workers fill a trailer with tomatoes, in Florida, on Feb. 6, 2013. Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Paul Greenberg is the author of American Catch and Environmental Author-in-Residence at Pace University, and Jason J. Czarnezki is Executive Director of Environmental Law Programs at Pace University.

Americans have until May 10 to add their comments on what the word should mean

For anyone with a deep, enduring faith in the meaning of nature, it may come as something of a shock to learn that the word “natural” means nothing at all—at least when it comes to the business of marketing processed food. Every year, U.S. corporations sell tens of billions of dollars worth of food products labeled as “natural.” Yet, to this day, the Food and Drug Administration has never formally defined the term. The word is a kind of orphan child, undefined by government, misused by industry and without a provenance or a use for the average American consumer.

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