When you look through the shelves of your local food store, even your garden variety grocery, you’ll find some products labeled ORGANIC and some labeled NATURAL. To a casual observer, these terms may be interchangeable. After all natural means as close to nature as possible, right?
WRONG. For people who are increasingly becoming conscious of the impact of food on health and the planet, the difference is vast.
Let’s do a breakdown of the differences, shall we?
This can mean a number of things. People assume that food labeled “Natural” are those that have received minimal processing and do not contain any artificial flavors, antibiotics or hormones.
Interestingly however, according to USDA rules and regulations, this only applies to meat, poultry and egg products. In addition, the “natural label” solely applies to the processing of these products and does not cover any farm practices involved when producing them. Probably not at all what you thought.
Further, other than these 3 food products, neither the FDA nor the USDA has clear cut rules and regulations for products with the “natural” label.
Because of this, the term “natural” is really subject to the interpretation of individual food manufacturers. Usually, the decision to add the term “natural” to a product food label is solely determined by a corporate marketing department.
Sad as it may be, it is less “truth in advertising” and more a marketing tool. The addition of the term “Natural” is meant to appeal to health conscious and environmentally aware consumers.
Sometimes, the truth is stretched so much that foods containing heavily processed ingredients may carry a “natural” label. While it may not be as harmful as having high fructose corn syrup being okayed by the FDA to be labeled as “natural”, how about products that contain high fructose corn syrup? Technically natural, right?
Consider these other additives:
Vitamin K or Phytonadione. This is not included in the FDA list of recognized safe food additives. In fact, Phytonadione injectable form is listed as a prescription drug. Why is it even added to food that is regularly consumed by people? And can be marked “Natural”.
Or how about this? Bromelain, an enzyme derived from pineapple whose production requires acetone, a hazardous synthetic substance.
Or this? Sodium Molybdate which has not been generally recognized safe by the FDA. This same chemical is found in fertilizers for leguminous crops.
These all are found in products that are marketed as “all natural” with claims of having no artificial ingredients added. The thought of this happening all the time is scary.
The next time you’re at the grocery and find yourself reaching for a juice or a cereal that’s labeled ALL NATURAL, think again. It may not only be unhealthy for you, it may actually contain ingredients that are potentially harmful for the body.
Understandably, going organic means paying more. And there is a very good reason for this.
When you see a product that is labeled “organic”, you can be sure that it was made through a process closely regulated by the USDA. What does this mean? It means that the product is not allowed to contain these nor can any of these be used in its production:
It starts literally from the ground up – food labeled “organic” reaches consumers having undergone strictly defined and regulated practices. From how the raw ingredients are farmed to how they are processed, they are closely monitored by regulatory agencies that conduct rigorous certification inspections, both announced and unannounced, to ensure compliance.
When you choose to go organic, it’s a close as you will come to a pure product.
While you may now be tempted to shun all things, or at least avoid all products labeled “natural”, not all are bad.
There are products with botanicals such as aloe, chamomile, shea butter or essential oils. These are examples of natural ingredients that may not technically be labeled as organic but contain many benefits. Also, a product may contain organic ingredients as listed on the ingredients list, without it being marketed as ORGANIC.
Further, keep in mind that Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as an example, is always organic, even though it may not be marketed as organic, per se.
Here’s an important rule of thumb – Don’t rely on branding. Just because the product looks wholesome and is labeled as Healthy and All Natural, it really doesn’t mean anything. In fact, it may mean the complete opposite of this.
It pays to check the ingredients list of any product you are buying. By law, manufacturers are required to disclose the full list. This is one part of the packaging that does not lie.
As a consumer who cares for your health, you can protect yourself by arming yourself with knowledge of what is good and what is bad for you.
Here is what is reliable though. When you see a product or products labeled as USDA Organic, you can be sure that they were made according to a strict set of government standards and regulations.
With this seal of approval, you can be sure that you are purchasing a product or products that are good for you, your family and the environment.
Cibaria International is a trusted name and a leading supplier of olive oils and balsamic vinegars to every segment of the food industry.
QUALITY is what defines us – from the products we carry to our customer service and amazing turn around times, we go above and beyond expectations. We are committed to delivering “products you can trust, service you can count on and unparalleled dedication to being the best that we can be”
Many of our products carry the USDA Organic label so you can be sure they will be good for you, your customers and the planet.
If you are interested in carrying our products in your store, reach out to us today. We also private label. We are happy to answer all of your questions.
Contact us at (+951) 823 8490 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Natural Versus Organic, health food, food labels, food terms, organic food, natural food