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Why do consumers so love natural products?

Why do consumers so love natural products?
Ruminations on the imminent arrival of my 18th Natural Products Expo West.

Nature soothes. Nature relieves. Nature relaxes. Nature feels good. Nature is good medicine.

So natural products should do the same, too, right? Isn't that why we're all about to trot off to Anaheim - to revel in the glory of like-minded, all-natural kinfolk?

People want to prevent disease, to prolong health—blissfully, healthfully, naturally until they’re blowing out the 100 unadulterated beeswax candles on their hundredth birthday cake. And if they can do that without any untoward side effects, then yes.

Those pharmaceutical commercials look like exactly the ticket, unless you have the volume turned up and then notice that the words are all about those side effects. Yuck.

And, let’s face it, we do not have an actual health-care system at work here in America. What we have is a disease-management system. A doctor will tell you you’re well, or you have a diagnosis for a disease, in which case you will be prescribed pills to fix the symptom that ails you.

But what about all the other states of being along that life continuum, those places between lying on your deathbed and leaping tall buildings in a single bound? Groggy mornings. Fatigued, pre-coffee mornings. Hungover mornings. Post-lunch laziness. O.K., falling asleep at your desk mid-afternoon. Coming home from work and not feeling like a jog but rather a couch. Where’s the remote? Can you get it for me, dear?

This is the wheelhouse of natural products. They offer the opportunity for optimal living. Thriving in a state of sheer zest. A pandemonium of antioxidant warfare on free radicals and pathogens small and smaller. Give me some vitamins—by definition, essential for life but which must be attained through the diet. Keep away, artificial colors. Go away, engineered trans fats. GMOs? Puh-lease.

Only, like, did you know that most vitamins in supplements are synthetic? USP-grade, mind you. Molecularly identical to the real McCoy. They behave in exactly the same way, according to regulatory bodies.


Hence the rise of transparency, powered by social media.

Hence the rise of “clean label” ingredient decks, without all those chemical-sounding ingredients.

Hence the rise of vegetarian capsules—who wants to eat horse lips anyway? (I know, I know—they’re still natural!)

Hence the recent rise of “whole-food” supplements. Companies like MegaFood and its fermented vitamin soup creating vitamin-rich yeast. Or like Natural Factors with its British Columbia farms distilling 1 pound of supplement-ready nutrients from some 300 pounds of organic fields. Or Source Naturals with its Life Force Green Multiple. New Chapter.

Hence the rise of the “greens” category of pure, no-capsule tubs of nutrient-dense powders.

Because, face it, all the natural food in the world isn’t making us healthier, what with the rise, 60 years ago, of cheap, taxpayer-subsidized carbohydrates. Turns out it was all a big fat lie—refined carbs, not fat, make us fat. Imagine that! Calorie-rich, nutrient-poor.

We all know you’re supposed to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. What? It’s now nine?

A 2012 study by the NPD Group revealed just how many Americans eat a healthful diet—the kind all those media experts advise us is all we need, so nevermind the supplements. The answer was all of 2 percent of Americans eat 70 percent of the recommended dietary intake of fruits, vegetables, fiber and protein. Which is to say, nobody—but nobody—is eating healthfully.

Hence the rise of the $400 Vitamix blenders, and the Ninja Bullet blenders. Before 8 a.m. today I had one serving of banana, one of orange, one of blueberries, one of blackberries, one of kale—and then I added a scoop of Green Vibrance, which is 12 grams of pretty much every nutrient known to man.

But I’m a freak. Ask anybody.

Just like you, I don’t want to die until I’m 100—and when I do, I want to die on the rim of the Grand Canyon, or the top of the Grand Teton—with my loved ones or, if nothing else, a monkey sidekick.

You know. In nature. With nature.

See you in Anaheim.

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