GUELPH, Ont. — The issue is binary for Dag Falck: there is organic food, there is conventional food and there is no middle ground for “natural” food.
“There’s no in-between,” said Falck, organic program manager with Nature’s Path. “It (natural) is like new and improved. What does new and improved mean? Not much.”
During a presentation at the Guelph Organic Conference in early February, Falck focused on the confusion surrounding natural and organic food claims and argued that “natural” is a meaningless claim.
He said organic is a philosophy, a system based on best management practices and a social movement that aims to improve the world. In contrast, natural is a word that food processors use to deceive the public.
“There is no (natural) community … that says, ‘we really believe in this natural stuff, we’ve got to keep it natural.’ That doesn’t exist.”
Falck’s aggressive attack on natural food production provoked a response from several audience members in Guelph, including Megan Meier of Kitchener, Ont.
Meier, who is moving to Saskatche-wan to start a pastured poultry farm near Preeceville this spring, said her chickens won’t be organic but they will be raised outside.
“It’s better than organic because you’re looking at the whole health of the animal,” she said following Falck’s presentation.
“You can feed organic feed to chickens in a confinement house and they would be called certified organic…. So, yes. I definitely take issue that there is no difference (between natural and conventional production).”
A Canadian Food Inspection Agency employee at the Guelph conference said the agency doesn’t approve natural meat labels. CFIA inspectors will take action if a company sells meat with a natural label and makes claims that are fraudulent or misleading.
In most cases, the agency follows up on complaints.
Falck said the confusion around “natural” food demonstrates that no one understands what it means.