Clean Labels: Is “Natural” Really Healthier?

Paracelsus said, “The dose makes the poison.”  By this, he meant that virtually any substance is “toxic” (meaning, causing death) in sufficient quantities.  This holds true for common substances, many of which are essential to life in the proper quantities.  Even water and oxygen are “toxic” in large doses.  So to call any substance “toxic” is to oversimplify things greatly.

Alle Dinge sind Gift und nichts ist ohne Gift, allein die Dosis macht es, dass ein Ding kein Gift ist.— Paracelsus, 1583
The same is true for “natural.”  Arsenic is a naturally-occurring compound, but nobody would call it “healthy.”  It occurs at between one and 10 parts per million in soil.  It is also commonly found in groundwater in the American Southwest, as well as parts of New England, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  It is even used as a feed additive in poultry production to promote weight gain and to prevent disease.  There is also evidence that arsenic is an essential trace mineral in birds and mammals.  Arsenic is also a well-known poison and carcinogen, contributing to bladder, skin, and other cancers.  Chronic low levels of exposure compromise the immune system, leading to more severe—and sometimes fatal—cases of H1N1-type influenza.

Coombs Family Farms supports the Clean Label Initiative, and believes that claims such as “all-natural” need to be defined, and that the link between “natural” and healthy”, if it exists, should be explicitly stated.