The words ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ can be used on food and cosmetics labels, but without certification, they mean very little, and the products can still contain dubious ingredients. Over time, once you know your ingredients, you’ll start to see the fake green unravelling before your eyes.

Don’t be disheartened if you get – or have been – caught out here and there as you become better at ingredient-reading.

You’ll see pictures of the earth or mothers holding babies in a field full of dandelions advertising products with ingredients known to disrupt our hormones. You’ll see slogans like ‘Fresh Air System’ only to discover that the best form of fresh air is free-form, where you open a window rather than pump synthetic fragrances through your home. You’ll see ‘100 percent cotton’, only to discover that your fellow human was paid peanuts to produce that garment and the dyes are toxic. You’ll see ‘Made with real fruit’ only to find that, in addition to the 5 percent real fruit, there are 15 other ingredients in there that are anything but real fruit.

Don’t be discouraged. It’s part of the learning process and developing the skills to know what’s what. And it’s a beautiful big learning journey ahead.

Once you become aware, what’s not good and true will start to stand out like a koala on the Eiffel Tower!

Beginners will want to ensure two things:

1. You don’t fall into the trap of seeing a few front-of-label ticks saying a product is such-and-such-free’ and assume it’s awesome. Whether it’s food, cleaning or personal products, those few ticks and catchphrases are on the front in the hope that you’re too busy to read the ingredients list, and you just grab it, thinking you’re making a great choice.

2. You start to ask these two simple questions: ‘How is that made?’ and ‘Where does that come from?’ Yummy caramel crème brûlée tea, eh? How exactly do they create that flavor? It can be so super unsettling how many answers you don’t get that in the end, you’ll be running for the eco shops, farmers’ market and small providores to take comfort in simple, delicious and transparent truth.

Speaking of the truth, a word on inconvenience…

Learn more about this in my new book!

Copyright conditions require the cover image be used alongside the extract with the following credit line: ‘Images and recipes from Low Tox Life by Alexx Stuart, Murdoch Books, RRP $35.00 Photography by Rob Palmer.