Is Natural Food Healthy?
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Is food’s naturalness conceptually connected to its healthiness? Answering the question requires spelling out the following: (1) What is meant by the healthiness of food? (2) What different conceptual meanings the term natural has in the context of food? (3) Are some of those meanings connected to the healthiness of food? In this paper the healthiness of food is understood narrowly as food’s accordance with nutritional needs of its eater. The connection of healthiness to the following five food-related senses of the term “natural’’ is analyzed: naturalness as nutritive suitability, naturalness as moderate need satisfaction, naturalness as lack of human influence, naturalness as authenticity, and naturalness as familiarity. It is concluded that some very common current uses of the term “natural,” such as naturalness as lack of human influence, are not conceptually connected to the healthiness of food. Nevertheless, the first two senses of naturalness are strongly conceptually connected to healthiness in the food context and the last one may be indirectly related to it. Thus, desire for natural food is not necessarily mistaken and misguided.
KeywordsFood Natural Healthy Conceptual analysis
I want to thank Peter Sandøe and anonymous referees for their useful comments on the earlier versions of this paper, Susanne Uusitalo for correcting my English, and Academy of Finland for the financial support.
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