These days when you go grocery shopping nearly every product you look at says either “Natural” or “Organic”. And you would think that one would be just as good as the other. However, they’re not the same. In fact, if a product has the USDA Organic label on it you can bet it really is organic. But what about those products that say “Natural”? “Natural” SOUNDS like it means that there are not any chemicals or additives, doesn’t it? Therefore wouldn’t that mean that organic products and natural products are one and the same?
Not true at all. The Food And Drug Administration (FDA) defines natural food products as those that are processed without preservatives or additives and only regulates the term “Natural” with regard to added color, artificial flavor and other synthetic substances. There are not any other government restrictions to be able to use the word ‘Natural’ on the product label and it’s entirely acceptable if chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides where used in the growing process.
So the word ‘Natural’ on the product label has virtually no meaning since there aren’t any laws or regulations governing it’s use. But, manufacturers recognize that to the consumer, natural means the same thing as healthy and that healthy sells. “Natural” potato chips, “Natural” cookies, “Natural” ice cream. Shoppers see the word “Natural” on a product and literally eat it up. However all it really means is there are not any artificial colors or flavorings added. The products were all raised in the same conventional, chemical laden environment and these toxins are passed on to you when you consume the products.
However when you see that “USDA Organic” you can believe it. Organic farming is regulated by the United States Department Of Agriculture and there are terribly strict guidelines that must be adhered to if a product is to get that label. Organic farmers don’t use any conventional pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. Growth enhancers and hormones, antibiotics and medicines are not used on the livestock and the livestock is not fed low-cost grains with things like stale pastry and candy in it for filler.
If you want to know if you’re buying a healthy product then ignore the front of the package and read the ingredient label. Ignore that word ‘Natural’ and look to see what is really in that package. Manufacturers are counting on you being gullible enough to believe that ‘Natural’ means healthy and since they do not have anybody policing their practices it’s up to you to become a wiser consumer.
That is not to say that all products that are labeled ‘Natural’ are really junk food and there are some reputable companies out there. Search for smaller companies though because it won’t be those big guys. But if you really want to be sure you’re buying the healthiest food possible, look for organic products that have the USDA Organic label and you will know for certain you are getting a top quality product.