Organic and Natural are often used interchangeably. They are not the same. Here is an explanation of the differences and what to buy organic.
Shopping for organic and natural products is quite confusing nowadays and sometimes the terms “organic” and “natural” seem to be used inaccurately.
What does Organic mean?
Agricultural producers who want their produce to be considered organic do have to meet the guidelines set up by the USDA. The USDA only deals with food or agricultural products. The USDA’s guidelines for produce to be labeled organic is quite stringent . Companies that want their products to be considered organic must be able to verify that the operation and the manufacturers of the final product must all be certified by a USDA accredited organic certifying agent.
These methods integrate biological and mechanical practices that encourage recycling of resources and ecological balance, and foster biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers and genetic engineering must not be used to merit this label. 95% of the ingredients in the products, excluding water, must be organic to be able to use this label. The certifying agent’s name and address must be listed.
Categories most often encountered when buying organic or natural.
- Made with organic ingredients
This means that the product contains at least 70% organic ingredients.
These products cannot hold the USDA organic seal.
- Less than 70% organic ingredients
If the products contain less than 70% then the word “organic” cannot be used on the label. However, if the product does contain an ingredient that is USDA certified as organic, it can be listed as such.
- 100% Organic
These of course are the purest products in which all ingredients are certified 100% organic.
Organic produce worth buying
The “Dirty Dozen” is the list of produce which is most contaminated by pesticides and toxins.
The following should ideally be purchased organic if you are attempting to eat natural and protect yourself from pesticide toxicity:
Non food products
The word “natural” is not regulated and is a judgment call by manufacturers. When purchasing towels, for instance, those made with bamboo or cotton would be considered more “natural” than those with synthetic fiber.
Similarly paint might be considered natural if it is nontoxic and odor free. Clearly, when buying produce for consumption, the word “organic” is a must if you are planning to eat organic. Once man made products are added to the ingredients, it is less likely that the entire product will be considered organic.
It is up to the consumer to educate himself and to read labels carefully. Terms “organic” and “natural” are not well defined and are often used indiscriminately. Take some time to decide exactly what you are looking for and determine what your standards for products for consumption and for the home might be.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.