For lazy prep cooks, or…

Alligator ChoppersFor lazy prep cooks, or those looking to create perfect julienne or dice without perfect knife skills, these Crate & Barrel Alligator Choppers will do the job for you. "With one quick press, hinged plastic cutters slice food into 'sticks' with a razor-sharp grid of stainless blades. Turn 'sticks,' then press again for 'cubes.'" See, you don't even need to know culinary terms to use it! $19.95 – $26.95, depending upon the size.

Buy a greenwashed product and…

Buy a greenwashed product and you’re buying a specific set of healthy environmental and socially correct values. "Greenwashing…can also describe a pervasive genre of food packaging designed to make sure that manufacturers grab their slice of the $25 billion that American shoppers spend each year on natural or organic food." Includes a list of identifiers so you're aware the next time you're shopping for "Natural Cheetos." I imagine those must be picked fresh from the Cheeto tree, right?

How natural is natural food?

Kate at Accidental Hedonist reports that Capri Sun will be removing the "All Natural" label from their juice products after a lawsuit by consumers. The suit claimed the label was misleading and deceptive because Capri Sun contains high fructose corn syrup, a man-made product. But corn syrup is produced from corn starch, a natural product of corn, by an enzymatic reaction. Enzymes are natural, a scientist didn't invent enzymes one day in the lab. So in a weird way, Capri Sun is natural. I don't think that's really the issue here.

People infer some kind of healthiness when they read the label "All Natural", but plenty of natural product will kill you, eating the wrong wild mushroom, for example. The real issue is processed food, and how much manipulation we want of our food before it reaches the table. Corn syrup (and the high fructose variant) do not exist in nature without human intervention. People looking for all natural food are looking for food in its original state, I suppose, but how often does that exist? And where do we draw the line? Is maple syrup all natural? You need to boil maple sap to produce the syrup. Is flour all natural? You need to grind the wheat to produce it. You could be a "naturalist" by eating only fruits and vegetables and foods that haven't been transformed, kind of like folks in the raw food movement.

For a while now, my eating style has been whole foods as much as possible. I don't buy processed or prepared foods. I make pretty much everything from scratch, and try to eat things as close to their natural state as possible. This way I can avoid additives and preservatives, and chemicals. Mostly I do this because I enjoy cooking, and I enjoy how these unmanipulated foods taste. Tomato sauce from scratch tastes better to me than sauce from a jar. Homemade soup is better than canned. When I go to the market, I don't look for an "All Natural" label, I look at the ingredients. It's pretty easy to tell from that what's really gone into the product.