Natural Processed Foods?

New research from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign shows that pre-cooked entrees can be better preserved with grape-seed extract, as discussed in the SD article Natural Ingredient Preserves Meat Quality In Precooked Supermarket Offerings. The effect is attributed to phenolic compounds produced during fermentation.

“I really think grape-seed extract is a viable, natural way to preserve meat quality in the precooked entrees that are so popular now,” she said. “And, when companies can use the word natural on a label, it’s attractive to consumers. It takes some of the guilt out of using a convenience food.”

So, adding a food extract makes processed food more natural? If the preserving phenols were produced in yeast or bacteria, would they be any less natural than the ones extracted from fermented grape seeds? Does “naturalness” really matter when we are considering frozen convenience foods? Foods like these are already so unnatural that the source of the additives is really a moot point, whether or not people can fool themselves into thinking it is natural.