Have you ever wondered what “natural” and “organic” mean on labels? If so, you’re not alone. Food labels today are filled with a number of ingredients that are barely pronounceable, let alone common enough to know what they actually are. The good news is that with more and more people looking for healthier options to choose from at supermarkets, there are a lot more options today than there were. However, with the variety of products on shelves, it makes it difficult to know what the best choices truly are. When it comes to “natural” and “organic,” there is a main difference you need to be aware of. One is strictly regulated and the other label can mean, well just about anything.
An organic label means that the product is strictly regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is good news for all you “organic” shoppers, it means that organic products are regulated from start to finish, assuring that it doesn’t contain certain ingredients found in non-organic foods and products. The USDA says that organic food has to be grown without toxic, synthetic pesticides and herbicides, GMOs, and antibiotics or artificial growth hormones. It also helps that organic farms do not add chemicals to the air, water, and soil. There have been studies that show organic farming also helps produce more nutrient-dense crops.
As far as “natural” it is a bit more open ended. In fact, it is all the way open ended. The “natural” labels are not strictly defined or regulated. It could mean that the food doesn’t contain preservatives, or that it is minimally processed, and it could mean none of those things. It is important to know that “natural” foods could even contain toxic chemicals and GMOs as they are not regulated like “organic” foods. Hence, it becomes that much more important to know how to read labels and understand what is being put in the products you purchase.
Natural and organic have two different definitions, and it is important to know the difference. Many companies are finding that just by adding “natural” to a label makes it more appealing to the consumer; however, it may not be more beneficial to your health. The bottom line is that organic food is the best choice for your health with its heavily regulated requirements and guidelines.
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