It’s hard to fault people who want to try leading healthier lifestyles when they explore options that fall a little bit outside the norm. A little trial and error never hurt anyone, and there’s plenty of reason to believe that an intelligent approach could lead to some novel and useful ideas. But when a healthy level of experimentation starts generating a cult-like following based purely on speculation, we end up with a situation where people are doing little more than throwing their money away and eschewing real science.
Take, for example, anti-vaxxers. The fundamental idea that one ought to be cautious about what they put into their body—particularly the bodies of children—is fair and reasonable. But when parents illogically cling to a belief that vaccines are harmful despite the overwhelming evidence that they are not (to say nothing of how beneficial they are to society as a whole), it’s only hurting themselves and others.
So when we see this obsession with “raw” foods and “non-GMO” ingredients, it’s much the same issue. For some reason, people believe that natural by definition equals healthy and that any type of human intervention is a bad thing. This then gets taken up by brands and manufacturers—like Naked Whey and Naked Casein, for example, which are “grass-fed” protein powders—who profit off of people who single-mindedly believe that these issues are worth paying double or triple the going rate for.
While a fool and his money may soon be parted, the question that remains is whether this becomes a bigger issue than it already is. For example, many have clamored for the labelling of all GMO and non-GMO produce, with the argument that doing so simply gives consumers more information. But if this information isn’t actually helpful—a la “fat free” orange juice or “cholesterol free” apples—are we just leading everyday consumers astray? That is the question regulators will have to answer going forward while attempting to strike a balance between consumer education and fearmongering.