If you are like anyone else trying to lead eco-friendly lifestyles, what you put into your body is a major consideration when you shop for food. But when you hear the words “natural” and “organic,” it is easy to assume they have interchangeable meanings. But did you know that natural foods are not always organic and vice versa? By comparing the two, it is clear that they are separate entities that provide the foundation for wholesome living.
Let’s start by defining what it takes for a food to be considered organic. One of the most notable differences of these items compared to natural ones is that they are sealed and monitored by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). A product can only be certified as organic if it has met the National Organic Program standards, meaning it contains at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. Any processed product claiming to contain organic ingredients must be made with at least 70 percent organic material.
Another prominent aspect of organic commodities is that they are grown without using any genetic modifications or conventional pesticides, making them an attractive option for those worried about possible health concerns associated with chemicals. Meat, poultry, dairy and eggs are also certifiably organic if no growth hormones or antibiotics were given to the animals while raising them. While there is no proof that organic foods are safer or healthier, they promote the use of renewable resources in farming and are overall a key to enhancing and maintaining environmental practices.
When it comes to natural foods, the main features of these products are that they involve little processing and no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors. Since natural foods are not government regulated, their labels tend to be used more freely by manufacturers. Thus, the definition of a natural food is more ambiguous than that of an organic food. The term “natural” implies minimal synthesis, but it does not always indicate anything about how the animals involved were cared for or fed. Regardless, natural foods can be an excellent source for eating healthy.
One thing that organic and natural foods have in common is they have a shorter shelf life. This is because neither contains any artificial preservatives. While the advantage here might be better taste, keep in mind the reduced lifespan of these foods and only purchase what you will use in a week’s time. Another commonality between these two categories is the price. Organic and natural products generally cost more than the processed alternatives, but many people stand by the healthy benefits of these supposed body cleansing foods.
While both natural and organic foods are great options to support healthy lifestyles, it is important to make educated decisions when filling your refrigerator and pantry. Remember to carefully read labels in order to insure the products you buy are in line with your dietary desires and needs. It is becoming more common to find these items at any grocery store, but try to support local agriculture and reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing organic and natural foods produced close to where you live.