As you walk through the grocery store aisles, food boxes, bags, and labels are bombarding you with their claims…natural, all-natural, 74% organic, certified organic. What does it all mean? Is it necessary to put the organic product in your basket, or is grabbing the “all-natural” product good enough?
“Natural” really means natural, right?
We thought we’d help you unpack the difference in natural vs. organic products, so you can be fully educated when buying food for yourself and your family.
In short, natural and organic are definitely not the same.
Here’s an NBC News article on Natural vs. Organic: How Food Labels Deceive.
What does NATURAL mean?
Unfortunately, it means very little. In the U.S., neither the FDA nor the USDA has rules or regulations for products labeled “natural.”
It can be confusing, because foods containing natural flavors, sweeteners, or other plant-derived substances can be labeled “natural.” In addition, foods containing highly processed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) can also be labeled “natural”, since the synthetic materials used to generate HFCS are not incorporated into the final product. Shockingly, foods containing genetically engineered or modified ingredients can also be labeled “natural,” something California’s recently defeated Proposition 37 tried to prevent. ~ Source: Nutrition.org
Because they can, food manufacturers often place a “natural” label on foods containing heavily processed ingredients. For example, a prepackaged fruit bar made with a majority of fruit and nut ingredients could be called “natural” while still containing a large amount of added refined sugars, preservatives and chemical components. ~ Source: FitDay.com
That’s why we at Urban Acres never use the term “all-natural” because it’s just too low of a standard.
What does ORGANIC mean?
“Organic” is the most heavily regulated food system. The “organic” label guarantees the product contains no toxic synthetic pesticides, no herbicides, no chemical fertilizers are used in production, and no antibiotics or growth hormones are given to animals. Organic producers and processors also are subject to rigorous announced – and unannounced – certification inspections by third-party inspectors to ensure that they are producing and processing organic products in a manner you and your family can trust.
Check out the USDA website for the specifics on USDA Organic standards.
Even the “organic” label has some variations, though,…no wonder it’s so hard to keep it all straight!
Products labeled “100% Organic” contain 100% organic ingredients.
Products labeled “Organic” contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients, and the remaining 5% are produced using no GMOs, sewage sludge or irradiation.z
Products labeled “Made with Organic Ingredients” contain a minimum of 70% organic ingredients, and the remaining 30% are produced using no GMOs, sewage sludge or irradiation.
Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organic ingredients on the package’s side panel, but may not make any organic claim on the front of the package.
~ Source: Stonyfield.com
The bottom line? As a consumer, you should know what you’re buying! Don’t just trust the front packaging of a food that shows glowing berries and wheat fields in the sun. Read the ingredients. Be educated on what you’re putting in your body.
Our Standards at Urban Acres
In our Farmstead kitchen,
- We bake with organic flours, butters, and sugars
- We use only organic produce
- We never use GMOs, artificial junk, or MSG
Be assured that all produce you get from Urban Acres will always be organic. It’s a commitment we made from the beginning and one we intend to keep.