It sounds illogical but the natural ingredient route is not always the best for the environment. Researchers are concerned that, by focusing solely on consuming foods that claim to have no additives or artificial ingredients, people will oversee the impact they are having on the environment. The purported solution by food scientist is synergy between science, sustainability and clean label trends.

Take the vanilla bean for example. Vanilla beans take up to 9 months to grow and are easily damaged by the environment. The highest producer of vanilla in the world is Madagascar but a cyclone that hit the African island in 2017 almost decimated the entire crop. This obviously had an impact on the vanilla market but the demand for natural vanilla remained high. This caused the price of vanilla to increase drastically.

It is not sustainable for consumers to demand vanilla in a time where the environment that produces the vanilla is still recovering. A solution that has been proposed is the addition of vanilla enhancers in food to lower the current demand of natural vanilla. This does not mesh well with the current healthy food trend that has only natural and organic ingredients in mind.

We still are not in consensus of what should constitute as a clean label product but perhaps we should focus on keeping all three of these categories in mind when we purchase snacks. Not all science in food is bad. In fact, it may help us achieve the results we are looking for.

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