Most people hardly recognize the difference between organic and natural foods when shopping at a grocery store. Even after reading product labels, you might find confusing things such as organic food products list, natural organic food, high dietary fiber, and so on. You will be learning different ways to identify organic and natural food products. This way, you can be sure of what you are getting in your hunt for healthier food choices.
The demand for organic and natural foods has reached its peak in recent years. “Organic” and “Natural” are two entirely different terms, as we will find out.
Foods with an organic label imply that the products have passed the USDA standards. For plants, they are foods that have been grown without using artificial fertilizer, pesticide, or banned products for more than three years before harvesting.
For animals, they refer to animals raised in natural settings and fed with 100% organic feed. Also, no hormones or antibiotics must have been given to them. Organic products are not exposed to sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic modification. Finally, ingredients labeled organic contain not less than 70% organic substances in them.
Natural foods do not contain a labeled description like their organic counterparts, and the FDA has not imposed any regulation on the use of the name. This means that a brand can call its artificial ingredients natural and get away with it.
Ideally, natural foods should not contain preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colors, and other additives to enhance their taste, freshness, and appearance since they contradict the term “natural.” But this is only a requirement and not a regulation, so manufacturers may decide to interpret it in various ways. Many consumers have been deceived by “natural” labels, which has led to increased scrutiny and attention by the public.
There has been a longstanding debate on the health benefits of both types of foods, and opinions remain divided among scientists. For instance, a 2012 study from Stanford University showed hardly any difference between organic and conventional foods.
On the other hand, a 2014 meta-analysis showed that organic crops have higher levels of antioxidants and certain compounds while retaining a lower pesticide content than conventionally grown crops.
Let’s look at the all-natural vs organic table below. It highlights the major differences between the two groups of products.
All-natural vs organic foods
|1.||It has no basis for health benefits since there are no regulations for the word “natural.” So, they could be actually healthy or unhealthy.||It has no basis for health benefits since opinions remain divided across scientists, researchers, and other relevant experts. Still, they have increased chances of being healthy since they are FDA approved and have legal implications.|
|2.||Increased demand and popularity because people believe they are healthier due to the lack of artificial substances and processing.||Increased demand and popularity since the government backs them, and people believe they are safer. Their manufacturing and expiry dates and content information reassure consumers.|
|3.||All-natural food products are organic.||Not all organic food products are necessarily natural.|
|4||Natural foods have a much shorter shelf life due to minimal processing and increased water content.||Organic foods have a longer shelf life than natural foods, which means that they could be stored safely for a long time.|
Organic food product lists and natural food labels could be misleading, but at least you know by now that they are not the same thing. More research is needed to understand the difference between natural and organic foods fully. For now, choosing either group of food does not automatically mean that they are healthy.
You might want to consult with your GP or nutritionist for better insights when buying them. Your aim should be to eat healthier, and one guaranteed way of doing so is by consuming more fruits and veggies while cutting down processed foods from your diet.
Whether you opt for organic foods or decide to go with natural foods, be sure to select foods from various sources to give you a comprehensive mix of nutrients. Also, read labels carefully to assess unwanted substances such as excessive fat, sugar, calories, or salt. Wash your fresh foods under running water to eliminate traces of bacteria, chemicals, and dirt.