Ok, I get peppered with questions all the time especially from individuals pushing products telling me all natural is just as good as organic, so what’s the actual difference between organic and all natural? Isn’t “natural food” just as safe and healthy as organic food? No, no its not, and here’s why.
Unfortunately, natural does not mean organic and comes with no guarantees. “Natural foods” are often assumed to be foods that are minimally processed and do not contain any hormones, antibiotics or artificial flavors. In the United States, however, neither the FDA nor the USDA has rules or regulations for products labeled “natural.” As a result, food manufacturers often place a “natural” label on foods that still contain heavily processed ingredients.
So how about organic? Organic is the most heavily regulated food system. Only organic guarantees no toxic synthetic pesticides, toxic synthetic herbicides, or chemical NPK fertilizers are used in production, and no antibiotics or growth hormones are given to animals.
Organic producers and processors also are subject to rigorous announced (and unannounced) certification inspections by third-party inspectors to ensure that they are producing and processing organic products in a manner you and your family can trust. As you can see there is quite the difference from “all natural”.
Regulation of Organic vs. All Natural:
According to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), “natural” foods are minimally processed and free of artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and additives like hydrogenated oils, stabilizers and emulsifiers. But there is no certification or inspection system to ensure that the label is accurate.
Also, the term “natural” does not usually relate to growing methods or the use of preservatives, whereas organically-grown foods have strict regulations in these areas. The National Organic Program, part of the United States Department of Agriculture, holds the food industry to strict standards in the production and sale of organic foods.
Main Differences Between Organic And All Natural:
|Organic Food||Natural Food|
|Definition||food refers to items that are produced using organic means.||Natural food items are minimally synthesized.|
|Standards||Stringent standards for organic food production, handling and processing exist throughout the world.||Stringent standards do not exist for natural food products in many parts of the world.|
|Certification Bodies||Many countries have certification bodies, the most prominent being the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).||The International Association of Natural Products Producers (IANPP) is trying to get the definitions for natural food into place. It should be noted that it is not a certification body.|
|Labels||Organic labels have legal implication. A manufacturer should follow the specified rules and regulations before using the organic label.||Natural labels are normally used freely by manufacturers due to lack of adequate guidelines.|
|Demand||Demand for organic food is more than the demand for natural food.||The demand for natural food is also increasing; however, not as much as organic food.|
|Health Benefits||There is no evidence to prove that organic food is healthier than non organic food. People prefer organic food because they feel it is safer than conventional food as chemicals, additives and preservatives are not used in its production (which should tell you everything you need to know 😉 )||People prefer natural food because they believe excessive processing of food items disturbs their health benefits.|
|Price||Organic food is priced more expensive than non organic food.||Natural food is also priced more than non organic food|
|Shelf life||Shelf life of organic food is more than that of natural food. You can store it for a longer duration.||Since it is minimally processed in many food items, which have high water content, the shelf life is low.|
|Availability||Organic food is being sold in almost every super market. There are special stores selling organic food and one can purchase organic food online as well.||Natural food is available at many stores that sell organic food. There are some special stores that sell natural food. Further, many stores selling health food items also sell natural food products.|
The Bottom Line:
When in doubt, head to a manufacturers website for details and read the back of the label. I can not stress the importance of this. Most companies will add an ingredient list to their web pages. If you cannot find your product, go ahead and contact the company.
Those manufacturers that want to promote their products will be happy to share ingredient information with you. For those that don’t…well, I guess you can make the connection as to why they are not sharing them, but I believe that is few and far between as most products today contain labeling information right on the back of the products you buy for consumption.
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