This all sounds good, except that the word “natural” carries little to no actual meaning when it comes to food labels. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1993 gently suggests that foods be labeled “natural” only if “nothing artificial or synthetic…has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in the food.” Unfortunately, this relatively toothless rule doesn’t clarify, for example, whether GMOs are considered artificial or synthetic. USDA’s regulation of “natural” meat, poultry, and eggs is similarly limited, and the Department simply stipulates that these products must be “minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients.”
All this consumer and regulatory confusion means big bucks for the food industry. “Natural” food racked up nearly $43 billion in sales in 2013, compared to just $8.9 billion for organic foods.
4. Prison Labor’s New Frontier: Artisanal Foods (Fortune)
As demand for food from small-scale producers continues to grow, many businesses struggle to keep pace. From goat cheese makers to tilapia farmers, food entrepreneurs are turning to corrections facilities to find workers to help their businesses scale up. The unexpected partnership allows small businesses to thrive in a blossoming artisanal food economy and helps inmates develop skills in food production while saving money for life after incarceration. Prison labor has a long history of exploitation, as workers make extremely low wages and are not guaranteed workplace protections. The influx of demand for inmate workers from smaller businesses might curb such exploitation, as in the example of Colorado Corrections Industries who turns away companies “that simply want cheap labor.”
5. It’s National Pollinator Week, But What Does that Mean for Bees?
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