Newsflash: natural and healthy are not always natural and healthy.

I’ve always been skeptical of these two words on food packaging for a very long time, and today I want to share with you why.

Gluten Free Recipe Roundup Four All Natural Red Velvet Cupcakes Gluten Free Dairy Free Natural and Healthy are not always Natural and Healthy

The truth is that I am now more skeptical than ever.

Both words are extremely subjective, and extremely deceptive.

Nut Butters

Here is the short version of how A Loving Spoon nut butters came to be.

I wanted a nut butter to eat for dessert that contained more than just “raw almonds,” but less than most nut butters currently on the market.

When I couldn’t find just that, I took the nut butter by the reigns and made my own.

Natural and Healthy are not always Natural and Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter with Cacao Nibs - a new nut butter line launching soon via @SarahKayHoffman

My grocery store experiences are much different these days. I go in, head straight for the nut butters and investigate. I’m always looking for something new, a brand/flavor I have not seen before.

My eyes tend to gravitate towards the “natural” and “healthy” packaging.

Here’s the catch, even if they are ultimate competitors to A Loving Spoon nut butters, I get really, really, really excited when I find a new one, with such packaging.

And then, 99% of the time it’s a huge letdown…..just like yesterday.

Natural and Healthy are not always Natural and Healthy

Here is what happened. I turned the jar of nut butter over, and read the ingredients.

The ingredients I spied were things such as: “soy lecithin,” “milk powder,” “emulsifier,” and “whey-protein isolate.”

So I put the jar back because it was a complete letdown..

Everything about that jar told me it was going to be one that I could buy and taste. I’m trying to taste as many different nut butters as possible because it’s good practice to understand the marketplace and competition.

Unfortunately, for me, I have yet to be able to do this. I don’t trust the current offerings.

Perception is the reality. People perceive certain colors, language and overall looks as natural and healthy when the reality is that rarely are they just that.

If living more naturally and healthier are important to you on your healing journey, promise me that you’re reading the labels and digging instead of taking everything at face value.

But p.s. You can always trust the Certified Gutsy list. You can see all products in one place HERE.

So what do you think? Do you buy products based on packaging, without reading labels? Or do you not pay attention to the marketing and head straight for the label? It’s something to think about.


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  1. Hey Sarah!

    I am with ya on this one! After my many years in the almond industry I learned the hard way about packaging rules… we packed and sold bulk raw brown skin almonds but even down to the fiber, glue and nitrogen for vacuum packing. We sold to Euro and Asian markets and of course Japan was our toughest critic…after going to Tokyo I understood so much more….going to one of their packaging lines where they took our almonds and turned it into their creation….their standards were HIGH and their ingredients only the BEST.

    Micro testing was another grey area. We tested Salmonella, Ecoli, Coliform and Aflatoxin. But standards and rules were way to grey….in order to sleep at night for me I had to lift the bar. Wish everyone did. Wish results were public. Wish FDA was tougher. All my run ins with them was like walking my mother through the plant. You could get a hit and retest….it was awful standards…especially for the raw market. Then almonds sold raw in USA had to be pasteurized…which alters the almond with a wet heat or uses chemical like ProPylene Oxide. Only way to get raw in USA is farmers market or direct from grower.

    Now my boys struggle with DYES…it makes them go NUTS literally! HA! So I spent hours in the store reading labels. It SUCKS! Even whole foods and trader joes are ridden with dyes. So I end up making my own and it is tons of work and never as good. I wish you the best in the adventure and space in the market 🙂

    As a side note about labeling….wine is another one….even the type of grape and where it is from is only a percentage. I took a few courses in Ag policy in college and was STUNNED to learn about labeling laws in the USA vs other countries. It is getting better but NOT FAST ENOUGH.

    Go Get EM Girl

    1. Hey Renee!!! AMAZING info, amazing!!! Mark my word, NEVER, EVER, EVER will a food dye be put in any product I produce. Need yellow? Got turmeric? How about blue? Hmmm…blueberries. I’m so sick of the way things can be skewed. I get it, no product can really be 100% perfect for everyone. I go by what I know, what I believe and what I’d FEED MY FAMILY AND MYSELF. I’ll always stay true to that. I’ll keep evolving if need be:) Thank you!

    2. Rene,
      Where in almond growing country are you. I live in the Capitol! Chico CA!i buy at the certified organic farmers markets for exactly for that reason.

      1. Near Ripon:) This post is actually less about my almonds and nuts in general than the “other” ingredients, but yes….so many awesome almond growers where we live!

  2. Definitely always reading labels! Especially on peanut butter. I just found out that my local grocer makes their own peanut butter with just peanuts. I can’t wait to get a food processor so I can start making my own nut butters!

    1. That’s where I began, Alysia….and then I perfected my recipes, and now I want everyone to have access to them:)

  3. Love this article. I spend far too much time in the grocery stores for this very reason. I think the world needs a 5 INGREDIENTS (or less) grocery store– no other foods should be given shelf space. Imagine how lovely grocery shopping would be 🙂

    I can’t wait to purchase your nut butters, Sarah. Nutrition is such an important part of my life, especially because I choose the foods that nourish my children. I find nut butters to be a fun, healthy treat for my littles!

    1. Thanks, Lindsey! So true, right? I hate that even when you think something is as simple as one ingredient, it’s not always the case. Knowledge is simply power.

  4. I *always* read the label. I don’t trust ‘natural flavors’ as an ingredient, either. Sometimes I worry that I get too hung up on finding food that is really, truly natural, and then I realize it’s so screwed up that we think it should be normal to eat something that’s NOT natural.

    1. Oh yeah, that’s a huge frightening word for me, “natural flavors.” Like really, WHAT is that…WHAT does it mean to your brand?!

  5. I tell my clients don’t listen to the front of the box. You need to go the back (or side) for the details to determine if it’s really healthy for you. Even better, buy things without boxes!

  6. Oh I read labels like it’s my job… Oh wait, because it is! Ah ha ha!! And I always get sad when products I think sound AMAZING have funky ingredients that I either cannot eat or are unhealthy!! But… These products just give me ideas for recipes I can make myself!

  7. There is no such thing as a quick grocery shopping trip for me, given how long it takes to read labels. Luckily, we are trying to eat more whole foods and getting the ingredients to make the other stuff. But the stuff I don’t make–nut butters are one–make the process so tedious with all the checking we must do. Kudos to you for making your own offering!

  8. Yes! When I want a “dessert-type” nut butter, I usually have to make my own at home. The only one I’ve found that I trust is at a local farmer’s market – they sell an incredible maple ginger triple nut butter (pecan, cashew, almond)!

    1. That sounds awesome…and yes, this is why I decided to launch my own nut butter line. I didn’t trust the current offerings. Of COURSE I trust myself:)

  9. I usually pick up the “healthy” boxes just to see what they are trying to get away with this time! Ever since I learned that corn syrup is “all natural” I know that “natural” is meaningless!

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