Have you ever purchased an item at the grocery store simply because it was labeled as being "natural"? Chances are, you probably figured it was healthier or contained no artificial ingredients. But that's not necessarily true.
Meagan Hemingson tries to choose healthy foods for her two-year-old son, Theoden, and herself. That includes limiting the amount of artificial ingredients in the foods they eat.
"We make our budget so that we can afford this even if we have to cut out other, more fun things, so that we can eat healthy," Hemingson said.
Hemingson has studied up on food labels, but fears many mothers in her shoes might be misled.
"If something is natural, they think it's a step up from the product next to it. That's not true," Hemingson said.
And there is a difference between "organic" and "natural" food items. While the USDA regulates what can be labeled as "organic," it doesn't regulate what's labeled as "natural."
"Natural right now is kind of a marketing term, so something can be pegged as being all natural and still be full of pesticides or chemicals or additives, preservatives, those kinds of things," Co-op Natural Foods Chef Lori Warren-Blechinger said.
Chef Lori Warren-Blechinger says the best way to tell whether a food labeled as "natural" is really "all-natural" is to look at the ingredients.
"If there are ingredients on there that you can't pronounce or that you don't know what they are, you should leave it on the shelf," Warren-Blechinger said.
That is something Hemingson now does because she prefers to eat mostly "organic" foods.
"We do really support local produce. Even if it's not organic, if it's grown locally, we can talk to the growers and know it's pretty much organic, just without the license," Hemingson said.
Warren-Blechinger also says if you have questions, don't be afraid to contact the company that made the product to find out more.