Are we committing a kind of naturalistic fallacy?

16. October 2015
Posted in Science
16. October 2015 Tobias Stöber

Are we committing a kind of naturalistic fallacy?

BERTRAND is an organic total nutrition powder. One package contains all the nutrients that, according to the current state of nutritional science, are recommended for an average adult. In addition, all of the nutrients in BERTRAND come from natural sources such as grains, oilseeds, almonds, nuts, fruit powders, and many more.

Our focus on the naturalness of the nutrients’ origins means that we are faced with the accusation that we are subject to a fallacy that natural means healthy, almost daily. This accusation is generally connected with the idea that we must be aware of this, but deceive our clients despite better knowledge, in that our focusing on naturalness and organic food suggests an advantage in quality that isn’t there. The assumption held by the representatives of this position is: a total nutrition powder that provided its nutrients from synthetic means would be less expensive and at least as good or better, and organic food is a fraud.

The situation

Currently, there are two competing models of total nutrition powders, of which BERTRAND is one. Firstly, there is our product, a composition of different natural ingredients, the whole of which fulfills the current nutritional recommendations, and in comparison, there are almost exclusively providers that supply an energy rich nutrition powder composed of a mixture of synthetic vitamin and mineral substances, which corresponds to the current nutritional recommendations. It’s then advertised with a certain pride that this type of nutritional powder contains only the recommended nutrients and on no account more. Everything addition in excess of the scientific recommendations is unnecessary and, what is far worse, unscientific. Anyone who believes that naturalness or organic ingredients makes a difference is committing a naturalistic fallacy.

Our perspective:

We know that the equations “synthetic = unhealthy” or “GMO = evil” are incorrect. We understand that synthetic ingredients and genetically modified organisms are used in the food industry. Genetic engineering is often necessary and practical, as are synthetic ingredients. But in our opinion these are used in the currently available Soylent varieties in order to make a cheaper product, not a better one. There is at least a difference in taste in whether I consume a meal made from a powder and a synthetic mix of vitamins, or whether I consume one made from various cereals, oilseeds, nuts, almonds and powdered fruit, and which holds up price wise (price per calorie) in spite of the organic ingredients.

I’ll try to clarify our view with an historical hypothetical.

If these synthetic powders were developed in 1941 according to the nutritional recommendations written at that time, it would have been a product that led to poor nutrition, because it would have been lacking in several essential vitamins. Luckily, the recommendations’ authors were not so naive as to believe that research in human nutrition was complete. Rather, they already suspected that more knowledge about vitamins and minerals was necessary, which would lead to changes in the recommendations. This was also noted in writing:

The comitee realizes that the values proposed will need to be revised from time to time as more knowledge of nutritive requirements become available.

http://www.nap.edu/read/13286/chapter/1

The synthetic powders were developed today and are containing the vitamins listed in the current RDI. But even in this RDI it is noted:

The DRI’s will continue to evolve as better information becomes available. When interpreting the results of assessments of individuals or groups, it is appropriate to consider possible limitations in the information base that was used to generate the relevant DRIs.

http://www.nap.edu/read/9956/chapter/5#27

Is the assumption that product development will continue in the coming years; that new essential vitamins will be discovered which the synthetic powders currently does not have, unless they are found in oatmeal or rice protein, so absurd?
Whoever wishes to take nourishment with a high certainty of getting all essential nutrients is much better advised with a mix of natural ingredients, than with a powder which is merely plied with the vitamins we know. The synthetic powders will certainly be improved in the future when new recommendations are published, but until that time a diet of 100% synthetic powder will not include these essential nutrients.

Our approach, then, is neither pseudoscientific nor alluding to a naturalistic fallacy. Rather, it follows the recommendations of the RDI authors, who admit that further research is necessary. The accusations we’re forced to hear suggest that there is an obligation to use synthetic ingredients.

We don’t see it that way.

Peter | Customer Care

Have any questions remain unanswered?

I am happy to answer any questions you might have on this topic. Feel free to write me an e-mail. You will usually receive an answer within 48 hours.

Peter | Customer Care

peter@bertrand.bio