Organic vs. Natural. What’s the Difference?

Are you confused about the difference between “Organic” and “All Natural” foods? If so, you are not alone.

Products that carry an Organic label are backed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) who inspects and certifies organic farms to ensure that products are grown and processed without the use of antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones or toxic chemicals. Foods that can be certified organic include: fruit, grains, vegetables, dairy and meat products.

What the Organic Label Means to You:

  • Single ingredient organic products, such as eggs, fruits or vegetables are awarded a “100% organic” seal and label.
  • Multi ingredient foods, like cereal, can carry the organic seal and state they are “100% organic” as long as all ingredients are 100% organic.
  • Multi ingredient foods carrying at least 95% organic ingredients can carry the seal and are allowed to use the “organic” label.
  • Products containing between 70 and 95% organic ingredients may advertise that they are “made with organic materials” but they are not allowed to use the seal on their packaging.
  • The law prohibits the use of the word “organic” or the organic seal on any product comprised of  less than 70% organic ingredients.

Organic farming refers to a form of agriculture developed in response to the growing concern regarding unsafe foods coming from farms with decades long practices of the use of pesticides, herbicides, and more recently, the introduction of genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s. Evidence suggests that dangerous pathogens may live in the GMO’s fed to our food sources and are  passed along to people who consume the potentially contaminated meat, poultry or eggs. Organic farming practices include crop rotation, water conservation, biological pest control, and green manure to result in a reduction of pollution, making it attractive to people who are concerned about the environment.

Unfortunately, many items advertised as Natural, aren’t natural at all. Although there are associations that advocate on behalf of natural food producers, loose guidelines and zero regulatory oversight result in natural foods containing GMO’s, artificial colors, preservatives and pesticides.

Finally, don’t let appearances fool you. While organically grown produce may not look as “fresh” as foods treated with chemicals, this is because they are free of preservatives or waxes that are typically applied to produce for a longer shelf life.  Although organic fruits and vegetables may spoil faster, the products must meet the same standards of safety and quality as non organic products.

 

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