Natural foods doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot anymore. We’ve all seen product packaging boasting that the product is “Natural,” “All-Natural” or “100% Natural.” So what does this mean? Honestly, not much! Natural simply means that the product has no artificial flavors, no artificial colors and no artificial preservatives – and that’s it! Natural does NOT mean organic! In fact, natural doesn’t even necessarily imply that it’s healthy for you.
Don’t Be Fooled By Natural Foods
You’ve likely seen potato chip packaging stating on the front that the chips contained therein are “All-Natural.” Sounds extraordinarily healthy, right? It may sound healthy, but, unfortunately, that’s probably not the case. “Natural” is considered by many to be one of the least useful and most confusing terms used on product packaging. It’s often simply a ploy by savvy marketers to confuse consumers into buying their products.
Organic Does Mean Something – Look for the Official USDA Organic Label
In addition to the requirement that the product has no artificial flavors, no artificial colors and no artificial preservatives, organic also means that no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides were used – and the product contains no genetically engineered ingredients. Therefore, it is imperative to look for the official USDA Organic Logo – of either the black-and-white variety or the green-and-white-and-brown variety. The USDA logo can only be applied to those items where at least 95% of the ingredients are organic. With this logo you can rest assured that the product has no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no artificial preservatives, no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides were used – and the product contains no GMO’s. Don’t be fooled by other marketing gimmicks (aka “All-Natural”) – look for the official USA Organic Label!
Before a product is labeled organic, a government-approved certifier inspects organic farmers, ranchers, distributors, processors and traders – including supermarkets and restaurants – to make sure they comply with all USDA organic regulations.
Classifications of Organic Content
Since October, 2002, the following guidelines were established by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) to assure consumers know the exact organic content of the food they buy.
- “100% Organic” – Means all ingredients are organic. The USDA organic label May be used on the packaging.
- “Organic” – Means a minimum of 95% of ingredients are organic. The remaining ingredients are not available organically but have been approved by the NOP. The package may include the USDA Organic logo.
- Made with Organic Ingredients – 70% – 94% of the product is organic. The USDA logo can not be used on the package. The packaging may, however, display the words “Made with Organic” followed by three ingredients on the front of the product.
- Other (Ingredient Panel Only) – Means the food has less than 70% organic ingredients. The USDA logo can not be used on the package. “Organic” can only be used on the ingredient panel.
Now grab that bag of chips again – you know – the ones that say “All-Natural.” Look for the official USDA Organic label on the front. If it does not have the official USDA label – which I’m guessing it doesn’t – and, even though it may state in bold, large letters on the front of the packaging that it is “All-Natural” – it’s likely that the chips are made from GMOs and also quite likely that the vegetables used in them have been sprayed with toxic chemicals. Therefore, even though this bag of chips was labeled as “Natural,” “All-Natural,” or “100% Natural,” it’s likely not healthy for you – and it’s certainly not organic.
Don’t confuse Natural foods with Organic – it could cost you your health!
Read Next: What is Organic Labeling and is Organic Worth It?
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