What does "Natural" mean anyway?

With so many items on the shelf of your local grocery labeled as “natural” you might think you have a good grasp of the definition or assume there is some sort of standard.  In reality, the FDA historically has declined to offer a definition and anybody can put the word “natural” on any product.

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Alarmed?  Well, feel a little better that recently the FDA has asked the grocery industry for input on creating an official definition for the term “natural.”  Problem solved, right?  Well, the fact that the Natural Products Association recently asked for extension for providing feedback suggests that there are many ideas on how to define the term.

To understand the debate, let’s consider a simple food that many of us probably ate today:  bread.   Surely wholesome and 100% natural bread is and should be readily available.  But what is so natural about cultivating a wheat plant into its current form over thousands of years, pulverizing its berry into flour, mixing it with water, salt and then forcing it to rise with added yeast?  What about putting that concoction in an oven and cooking it?  Much to my disappointment there are no bread trees with perfect little rolls forming at the ends of branches.

But, if we think about it, isn’t our ability to control our food sources and improve them through cooking and cultivation a large part of what defines us as human?  I don’t think any of us would argue that merely cooking a food changes it from natural to artificial.  A baked apple seems natural and so does the bread from our example above.  Those are easy, but what about cultivation vs genetically modified?  

The debate becomes tricky because we want to accept human intervention as natural, but not too much intervention.  We are trying to pick the line that when crossed the food and other products can no longer be called “natural”.

We invite your comments below!

Shop Local: Part of a Smart Business Plan

Shop Local – the phrase is meant to highlight the value of spending our retail dollars close to home.  However, it is also critical to how DANSOAP operates. 

When we founded our company a little over a year ago we made the strategic decision to maintain our independence by declining investment capital and loans.  This approach, often call bootstrapping, requires quick turn around on revenue to fund expenses and growth.  It is like building the train track ahead of you while running a locomotive full steam ahead!

So with no track ahead of us, we set out to create the best natural laundry soap available on the market.  The term “best” encapsulates a lot for us:  stain fighting, odor eliminating, biodegradable, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly, and low cost.   Here is how we are doing it:

Step One (build the locomotive):  Research and test top rated cleaning ingredients for effectiveness and low environmental impact.  We took the best from science, DIY laundry detergent recipes and our own experimentation.  The result?  An effective stain fighter that is safe for you and our planet. 

Step Two (lay the track):  Find local suppliers.  Here is the truth - when a major customer places a large order we rush out that day to get the ingredients.  We’ve developed a proprietary soap curing process and perform all of our packaging ourselves.  It is a slick operation that hasn’t failed yet to deliver on time.  But, it is 100% dependent on local suppliers.  In fact, DANSOAP purchases 89% of our raw materials within 21 miles of our manufacturing facility.  If we waited on distant suppliers to ship the product, the locomotive would have derailed long ago.

Why does this matter to you?  We often state that DANSOAP will be run with a sense of corporate responsibility, and we want to influence others to do the same.  We make a great natural laundry soap and offer it at an affordable price.  Our environmental impact is low and we source products locally. 

Our point is that high quality, environmentally friendly, locally sourced, low cost… those are actually complementary qualities in a good business plan.  Sure, it takes a little more effort and a little more discipline, but we think it’s okay to demand more from our corporate neighbors.

No Purchase Necessary

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Businesses are an essential component of a healthy community.  They provide jobs, services, and products that we all need to function and thrive. 

We also believe that a strong community is essential for a successful business. 

DANSOAP needs healthy and well informed customers to buy our product and help our business grow.  People, government, and businesses are all threads in the fabric that make up our neighborhoods and communities. 

This interconnectedness drives the core belief at DANSOAP that we have an obligation to be good citizens – to reduce our environmental impact, provide fair wages and benefits, pay our taxes, and support local non-profits and organizations that enhance our communities. 

Since we are interconnected, we also think that you have a right to know how we are living up to this “good citizen” obligation.  So, this blog will be used to tell you and show you what happens at DANSOAP and inform you about our industry.

We promise it won’t get preachy and it won’t get political.  We are just going to show what we do and why we do it.  You are invited to comment and hold us accountable to our obligation – whether you are a customer or not.

Copyright © 2014, DANSOAP, LLC. All rights reserved.