A lot of people tend to get confused when it comes to the terms “natural” vs “organic”. Either they take them to mean the same thing, or they are aware that there’s a difference, but they don’t realize just how big the difference is. Have you ever gone to the supermarket and had a hard time choosing between a natural and organic product? Do you want to find out which of them is better for you and why? Say no more, we are here to help you. Today, we are going to be talking about the difference between natural vs organic, and what is the best for you to consume. Let’s begin!
What Does Natural Mean?
That depends on what you are referring to. A natural product is any substance or compound that had been produced by a living organism and found in nature. But when it comes to natural food, which is the label most products use, things are not so clear anymore. The definition tends to be vague, since most food labeled as natural has usually been processed. Which means that it is no longer as found in nature. However, it seems to be implied that food is considered natural when it is minimally processed. Also, when it doesn’t have any artificial flavors, synthetic substances, or added color. Along the same lines, if you can find all the ingredients of the product in nature, the product can and will wear the label natural itself. However, this type of understanding differs a lot depending on each country and its regulations.
What Does Organic Mean?
When you see a label that reads “organic”, that means that the respective product has been produced following organic farming practices. Again, such practices differ from country to country, but generally, they involved no use of pesticides, fertilizers, or other chemicals. The products are not processed using synthetic food additives, irradiation, and industrial solvents. This makes them healthier, and it also preserves biodiversity and promotes ecological balance.
Natural vs Organic – The Basics
Now that we’ve established what natural and organic means when it comes to food labels, let’s take a look at the differences between natural vs organic food, taking into account several factors.
How Are They Regulated?
One important difference between natural vs organic is that they are regulated differently. For instance, let’s take the United States as an example. While the National Organic Program branch from the United States Department of Agriculture strictly regulates organic products, food that is labeled natural is not inspected closely enough. There is no way of knowing 100% if food labeled natural is actually minimally processed and so on. So consider that, whenever you see the word natural, you can’t know if the product is faithful to the label or not.
When it comes to meat and poultry, the products labeled natural are more strictly regulated. But only in what concerns processing and artificial ingredients. There is still no way of knowing how the animals were raised, under what conditions, and if they received antibiotics or hormones.
How Are They Labeled?
Another difference between natural vs organic food, is that organic products carry a special label from the United States Department of Agriculture. The label has the words “USDA Organic” inscribed inside of a circle. The label can be black and white or green and brown. If you see this label on a product, it means that it is at least 95% organic. But even products which don’t have this label, but are still advertised as having organic ingredients, are organic at least in proportion of 70%.
How Much Do They Cost?
There is also a price difference when it comes to organic vs natural products. The organic products are indeed more expensive. Which is why a lot of people tend to go for the natural ones. However, this should raise an alarm, since many companies and brands are labeling their products natural, even though they are not, just to get them to sell.
What Is Their Shelf Life?
In what concerns the shelf life or both organic and natural products, you should know that organic products do last longer than natural ones. You can store them for a longer period of time, without the risk of them going bad. On the other hand, natural food tends not to have such a long shelf life. That is because it is processed to the minimum.
Natural vs Organic Food – Which One Should I Choose?
If you are just taking the first steps towards a healthier lifestyle, but you don’t have so much money to spend on organic food, natural food is a good way to start as well. According to scientists, organic food is not healthier or more nutritious than natural food. But if you don’t want to consume too many chemicals and artificial substances, organic trumps natural. However, that doesn’t mean that natural food is bad for you in any way. It is definitely much better than fully processed food. So if you were to ask what to choose between organic vs natural, the answer would be that they are both good. But it is preferable to consume the organic products whenever you can. You can find both organic and natural products in almost every supermarket, and in specialty stores as well. So why not give them a try?