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Understanding The Difference Between Natural and Organic Products

We’ve all heard the expressions about talking the talk and not walking the walk, but sometimes you can’t do one without the other. Take health food, for example. You may be totally sincere and earnest about your desire to eat well, but with all the confusing health food lingo, you may not be sure about what that means. Should you be looking for a prebiotic, a probiotic, a macrobiotic, or an antibiotic? Sometimes, it may seem easier to just eat junk food.

Well, before you abandon your good intentions, you may be surprised to know how easy it can be to master the basics. Here is a simple lesson on the difference between natural and organic products to help you navigate your way through health food lingo 101.

Woman purchasing produce

The Basics
When a food is labeled organic, it means that it has been produced, manufactured and handled in accordance with the USDA Organics Products Act. Natural food refers to food that is derived from animals and plants and has not been chemically altered or synthesized in any form. Hence, natural foods are not necessarily organic and organic foods are not necessarily classified as natural.

The preference for one over the other the other comes down to personal standards. Fans of natural foods believe that synthesis of food leads to a loss in nutritional property. Those who prefer organics want food free of pesticides, fertilizers, and preservatives.

The demand for organic food is greater than that for natural food because organic food is guaranteed by the government. While an act similar to the Organic Food Product Act has been proposed for natural foods, it has yet to be realized.

Certification Agencies
Most countries have certification bodies for organic foods, the most prominent of which is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Although The International Association of Natural Products (IANPP) champions certifications for naturals foods, it is not a certification body.

Woman reading label

Food Labels
Manufacturers of organic foods must follow specified legal rules and regulations before labeling a food “organic.”
Natural food labels can be used freely by manufacturers.

Health Benefits
There is no evidence to back the belief that organic food is healthier than non-organic food. Preference for organic food is usually based on the idea that it is safer than conventional foods because it has not been exposed to chemicals. However, research suggests that organic food choices can lead to increased antioxidant intake and lower levels of exposure to toxic heavy metals.

People who choose natural foods, on the other hand, do so because they believe that the processing of food decreases its health benefits.

Price
Organic food has a higher price than non-organic food; natural food has a higher price than processed food.

Shelf Life
Organic food has a longer shelf life than natural food. Because natural food is subject to minimal processing, it tends to have a high water content which shortens shelf life.

organic food

Availability
Organic foods are sold in most major supermarkets and can be purchased at specialty stores and through online sources.

Natural foods are available at most stores that sell organic foods. Some stores specialize in natural foods. Many health food stores sell natural food items.

Has this cleared things up at all? Let us know where you stand. Are you Team Natural or Team Organic, or do you not have a pony in this race?