FAKE OUT! When Natural Products Aren’t Natural

As we move to wanting natural, organic, free range, virgin, first-press… products the question always arises:

How can you be sure that you are actually getting what you paid for?

There have been a plethora of news stories outing fake products including fake olive oil, fake honey, Dr Bronner’s suing companies over using the natural title on products that aren’t natural and the ongoing yellow shea butter vs. white shea butter debate.  So with all this slight of hand and dishonesty in labeling how can you as a consumer inform yourself on what you are actually buying? 

  1. READ THE INGREDIENTS.  Don’t simply fall for product marketing, read the ingredients list and ask questions.  If you see an ingredient you don’t recognize do a google search and figure out what it is or email the company.
  2. GO DIRECTLY TO THE SOURCE. Or as close as you can.  When buying vegetables for example those grown locally will always be better than a crop shipped from another country.  Talk to the grower at your farmer’s market and ask them questions about how they grow and harvest the crop, type of pesticides used, where the crop came from, etc.  Also ask others if they have done business with the grower and what their experience was like.
  3. IF IT SOUNDS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS.  Organic oils/butters are expensive and can run you $ 10-20 as most are imported from other countries.  Do your research and get a sense of the market rate for a product.  If you see someone selling way below market costs it is probably fake.
  4. ASK QUESTIONS.  And then ask some more once those are answered.  If a company is in a particular industry they should be knowledgeable about the industry standards and practices.  If they brush off your questions or get defensive chances are they have something to hide and I would not trust them.
  5. CONTACT COMPETITORS.  There is no better way to get the low-down on someone then to ask their opponent (just check out all the negative political ads we see during election season).  Sample questions to ask a competitor are: What makes your product better then company X? Company X claims to use 100% of blah-blah-blah, do you use the same?  Your product is half the price of company X, does that mean it is of lower quality?

While you are only as informed as the information that is available following the steps above will help bring you closer to the truth and hopefully keep you from falling for the okey-doke.

Look… me and the McDonald’s people got this little misunderstanding. See, they’re McDonald’s… I’m McDowell’s. They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds.  –Cleo McDowell, Coming To America

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5 thoughts on “FAKE OUT! When Natural Products Aren’t Natural

  1. It’s crazy how many products are being exposed. There are a few more that I’m suspicious of. I don’t think that all products have to be 100% organic and natural, but they do need to be honest. Their prices should also reflect the contents. Don’t price as an organic product if it isn’t one.

    I love the point about asking competitors. You are so right. They will quickly let you know if they have concerns about another product. I wouldn’t believe everything a competitor said, but it would give you something to discuss with the company.

  2. The best thing that I have learned in all of this is that “all natural” and “organic” are just certifications, which means that the product itself has met certain standards to be classified as “all natural” or “organic.” There are products that are made that have used all natural ingredients, but aren’t “certified” as natural. Then you have products made with a few natural ingredients, but they have met the criteria for being “certified natural.” Whew! I hope I said that right. LOL!

    • That’s true. We have a farmer’s produce delivery service here in town and they do a lot of organic produce but do not want to shell out the $30K+ To have the labeling and certification of organic, however, they’re just as good (if not better) than the ones that do have theirs labeled as organic. So I am sure that smaller companies may in fact be 95-100% organic but can’t label as that due to not having paid for the certification…Once again. research is definitely key if you’re not sure.

  3. LMBO at the Coming to America analogy…
    Yes, companies can be VERY deceiving…as my granny always said, “You get what you pay for…”

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