Organic vs. All Natural — The Inside Scoop

Our foods are fake! The fact that our once nor­mal gro­cery foods have become mod­i­fied and enhanced and no longer give us real nutri­ents is a harsh real­i­ty that we all have to face. In an effort to sus­tain shelf life, image qual­i­ty, and year round con­sump­tion, the food indus­try has tam­pered with our con­sum­ables to the point that if we real­ly want to eat healthy, we have to pay more. So what do the food cor­po­ra­tions do? They  cre­ate a high­er tier of more expen­sive food; those two tiers are Organ­ic and All Nat­ur­al. Both are dif­fer­ent and you need to know the difference.

foods

Organ­ic
Organ­ic has become a lifestyle choice for many folks across the US. The idea is that organ­ic retains nutri­ents that are many times lost in mass pro­duc­tion. The term “organ­ic” is defined by the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, which requires strin­gent third par­ty test­ing in order for foods to obtain the organ­ic stick­er. The main prin­ci­ples in an organ­ic food are Bio­di­ver­si­ty, Sus­tain­abil­i­ty, Nat­ur­al plant nutri­tion, Nat­ur­al pest man­age­ment, Diver­si­fi­ca­tion, and Integri­ty. For farm­ers to become cer­ti­fied organ­ic, they must fol­low all of the guide­lines and keep good records of their process­es since agents can audit them any­time. As you can imag­ine, this process adds costs to pro­duc­tion, but the belief is that buy­ing organ­ic will ensure the best pos­si­ble qual­i­ty of health — some­thing that is dif­fi­cult to put a price on.

All Nat­ur­al

The term All nat­ur­al on gro­ceries and food labels can often be decep­tive, many times lead­ing con­sumers to believe that they are buy­ing health­i­er foods when in real­i­ty it may or may not be any more health­i­er than the orig­i­nal prod­uct. Accord­ing to the USDA, foods can only be labeled “nat­ur­al” if they do not con­tain any arti­fi­cial ingre­di­ents or added col­ors and are min­i­mal­ly processed.

But as you could imag­ine, man­u­fac­tur­ers will use the label “all nat­ur­al” while ingre­di­ents con­tain MSG and GMO’s to enhance shelf life, taste, and reduce pro­duc­tion costs. The prob­lem with “all nat­ur­al” is that there is no true reg­u­lat­ing agency or account­abil­i­ty process like there is with “organ­ic.” With just a lit­tle bit of research (like read­ing the label), prod­ucts that claim to be all nat­ur­al will con­tain  ingre­di­ents that have been mod­i­fied and hydrogenated.

The Key
The impor­tant key to eat­ing healthy is to not trust the labels.  You will have to bring your eye­glass­es to the super­mar­ket with you and read that tiny print on the back of the box. Thanks to the FDA, every ingre­di­ent has to be pub­lished on the box and if you can’t pro­nounce more than 5 things, it’s prob­a­bly no good for you.  As far as pro­duce goes, buy­ing organ­ic is your best option.  Being an aware con­sumer and read­ing what you are eat­ing is the best and most impor­tant way to stay healthy and in-con­trol of what you put in your body.

By Car­olyn Dean