“Natural Flavor”, the name itself conjures up something nice, yet most people wont even be able to imagine what it is exactly. After all, when you read or hear the name, what do you think of? Do you think of actual fruits, vegetables and animals? How often have you stopped, and actually tried to imagine what these “natural flavors” are? If you are a cook, you may think of something like a reduction, where you boil, simmer, or otherwise “reduce” (gotta love real science for explanatory nomenclature) something. Like beef bouillon, or a fruit sauce. These are what I would consider natural flavors to be. If I am making a small dessert, or perhaps a syrup, then boiling down my raspberries into a concentrated sauce, and adding just a few more, is what I would do for enhanced flavor. a couple of raspberries (or other fruit, vegetable, or animal constituent) may not have the flavor balance that my recipe is calling for, but a small amount of reduction would add enough to compensate. This is not what most “Natural Flavors” are. Check out the business end of Flavors, here is a wonderfully indicative website, that sells these things, notice the “Organic” section, and the limited list there. http://www.flavor.com/ and for some contrast, http://www.naturesflavors.com/ and yes, I am a fan of Ed Begley, as well as Bill Nye.
The legal and regulatory definition of “Natural Flavors and Flavorings” as per our governmental regulatory bodies is as follows: from Title 21, Section 101, part 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations
“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”
“…whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.” Not ONLY function, not nutritional, just the vague term “significant function”, which allows quite a bit of leeway. There is no mention of addictive qualities, no mention of avoiding nasty side-effects, just significant. It even specifies that it must not have nutritional value as its significant function. This is under the auspices of brand differentiation, or maintaining original formulas. But I ask, “Exactly how many different kinds of raspberry go into ‘raspberry flavor’?” I mean, I get the amounts being a secret, but then why is the ingredients to such a thing secret? I have NEVER seen a blue raspberry in my life. I am not the only one who wonders this type of question, I am certain of that. If you wonder these things as well, I suggest you start at this website http://www.organicauthority.com/foodie-buzz/what-is-natural-flavor.html , after you have looked at the others, it may just change your mind, and change your life. Once you realize you may be eating crushed bugs, bug extract, and the glands of beavers (or be smelling them in perfumes) you may just change your diet, or at least start trying out a community garden, to grow your own, which is always a good thing. And in the end, learn to cook, if you cant grow your own, at least cook your own, then you will always know what goes into your food.