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Natural Products in Food Production and in Agriculture

A natural product, in its broad definition, is a chemical compound produced by a living organism in nature. In a broad sense, natural products include any substance produced by life, produced by a primary or secondary metabolic process.

Natural products for food production

Natural foods are defined as those that have been grown, processed, packaged and stored without using chemical additives. The definition also includes a distinction between natural and processed foods, considering that raw foods are natural foods par excellence.

Within the conception of naturism or nutrition with natural foods, which is closely related to vegetarianism, the substitution of the elements elaborated by more virgin and simple products is promoted. For example, the substitution of cane sugar that has important processes for its production by honeys or fruit syrups. The replacement of animal fats by others of vegetable origin a positive effect on our body and at the same time, its consumption is not harmful to health. Yogurt and other derivatives of fermented milk are among the foods considered natural and of greater popularity. They are excellent in calcium, protein and very low in fat. The consumption of yogurt in the last 30 years has grown almost 400%.

The greatest benefits of a natural food are:

More intense flavors

The greater amount of nutrients when respecting the ripening processes.

The absence of chemical products and additives that extend the natural life of the products produced.

Greater care of the planet and the environment by prohibiting the use of agro-toxins, anabolics, and antibiotics in meat foods that can pass to the human body.

But are the final products really natural?

One of the elements most combated by naturists or consumers of natural foods are the additives, substances used to supplement, stabilize, flavor or preserve them for a greater amount of time. In particular, this capacity of conservation is the most resisted, since this ability to prevent the natural processes of decomposition are still active after being consumed by man, generating different reactions in the body.

 

In this aspect, they also focus on the processes and their preparation for their intake, since it is considered that heat generates important changes in food at the molecular level, destroying most of the nutrients, especially vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Many of the advocates of organic products assume that additives, environmental contaminants and even contaminants of microbial origin or the composition itself are not present in these products. It is true that residues of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides may be lower in these products but there is no guarantee that they do not contain other potentially toxic substances (microbes, natural toxins). Thus, environmental contaminants such as polybrominated biphenyl, polychlorinated biphenyl and ketones may be present. Processed fertilizers can be of such quality and correct nutritional deficiencies in the same way as those that come from the soil when properly used.

We found in natural products Sugars are polyhydroxyaldehydes or natural polyhydroxyketones with different functions: structure, energy storage components of nucleic acids, etc .. are formed by photosynthesis in plants and are classified into monosaccharides (glucose), disaccharides ( sucrose) and polysaccharides (cellulose, starch, etc.). We also find in natural products Sweeteners that are natural or synthetic substances that confer a sweet flavor to food. We can find natural sweeteners such as: sucrose (sugar cane and beet), fructose (simpler and sweeter sugar, honey), lactose and galactose (sugars from milk, less sweet), and synthetic ones such as: saccharin (300 times sweeter than sucrose), aspartame (160 times sweeter), etc. Also, every day is more common the use of base oils of sesame, the braggs apple cider vinegar or the traditional olive oil for daily consumption, as well as other oils based on thyme, oregano, rosemary and eucalyptus and others, which usually contain properties that they eliminate the bacteria.

farming

Natural Agriculture is the natural cultivation of the land or the set of techniques and knowledge related to the natural cultivation of the land and aims to conserve and promote the genetic variety of species and types, and with it the richness of the landscapes of native crops. It is called Natural Agriculture, from the broad point of view, to all that basic and proper activity of a Natural and Conscious Human Being. Mentioned activity; not only contains the meaning of natural cultivation from the aforementioned generic point of view, which involves sowing or planting seeds and plants and taking care of them to obtain a healthy and fair fruit of them, maintaining respect for the environment and a sustainable balance both in the Self human as in Nature; but it also contains the set of human life actions, with all their implications, that encourage and preserve that habitat that coexists in harmony “Human-Nature” (Human and non-human environment).

There are several types of organic or natural agriculture that are based on balance and respect for the environment, such as Biodynamic agriculture, Natural agriculture or Fukuoka, synergistic agriculture, Messianic agriculture, Permaculture, etc. One of the main uses of natural products in agriculture is as “natural” insecticides. These come from plant extracts (the most used, Neem extract, pyrethrins or chrysanthemum extract, quassia amara, fern preparations, nettle, etc.), Minerals (potassium soap) or biological (Bacillus thuringiensis, granulosis virus). the carpocapsa, etc.), even natural enemies (loose of insects), which are chosen according to the specificity, the type of plague and its intensity.

For the management of pests, three other methods are also used: physical (phytosanitary preparations, such as entomological tails, chromatic traps and light bait, mosquito nets in greenhouse windows, etc.); biological (antagonistic organisms to decrease the capacity of the pathogen); and chemicals (biopreparations, plant and mineral products that reinforce the resistance of plants, inhibit the development of parasites or act as insecticides). Among the disadvantages and challenges of this type of agriculture, is that to achieve the same performance as conventional agriculture requires more knowledge and may involve more work and more risk. Also, specialists say that some “ecological” methods are not so and points out some examples: the spinosad, an insecticide star in organic farming, is not very specific and kills bees and other beneficial insects; Rotenones have been associated with diseases such as Parkinson’s; the Bt bacteria is sprinkled by the field but if it is put in transgenic plants it is no longer “ecological”. Likewise, the use of natural products in agriculture is also required for the production of pheromones: modifiers of the behavior of animals.

The best decision: Natural products

Highlighting the positive characteristics of the production and consumption of natural products in agriculture is that, when cultivating food in soils balanced by natural fertilizers, the products are more nutritious because they contain higher levels of vitamins -especially C-, minerals essentials -calcium, magnesium, iron, chromium …-, antioxidants -which help prevent certain diseases such as cancer-, carbohydrates and proteins. This type of agriculture is the most respectful of the fauna, which generates a lower contamination of aerosols, produces less carbon dioxide, prevents the greenhouse effect, does not generate polluting waste, fertilizes the land and slows desertification, helps to save energy and favors the retention of water and does not contaminate the aquifers.