Natural vs. Organic — What’s the Difference?

posted by Andrea | 08/16/2010

“Natural” and “organic” are two words we see nearly everywhere we go now days. Whether you’re at the grocery store, your favorite resturant, a department store, or even a hardware store; these two words are bound to show up.

However, the terms “natural” and “organic” are not interchangeable. Much to my surprise, the terms “natural”, “all natural”, and “100% natural” don’t mean a thing! We have been trained to look for natural and organic products and are probably willing to spend a bit more on these products; but it might not worth it.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about “natural” and “organic” products…I figured you might want to know too!

1. The FDA does NOT regulate “natural” products:

I didn’t know this! The FDA defines “natural” products as: “ingredients extracted from plants or animal products as opposed to being produced synthetically.” This could simply mean that some {maybe only one} of the ingredients are “extracted from plant or animal product”. These “natural” ingredients can still be grown with heavy chemicals and pesticides. Not too impressive — which is why I won’t pay extra just because a product claims to be “all natural”.

However, products labeled “organic” mean that they are grown “without the use of toxins or pesticides.” This is great because we don’t want to put toxins or pesticides into our bodies {at least I don’t!}

2. Ingredients aren’t always what you think:

Since there isn’t an official definition of “all natural” it can mean whatever companies want it to mean. It can mean, for example, that all the chemicals found in the product simply aren’t listed on the label — because apparently, there’s no requirement for food companies to list chemical contaminants found in their foods!

“Natural” products can still contain:

  • pesticides
  • herbicides
  • toxic heavy metals
  • trace amounts of PCBs
  • toxic fluoride
  • hidden MSG
  • synthetic chemical vitamins

3. Look for the seal:

The USDA puts this seal on all organic products that meet their ridged standards. These products are simply better for you because they have almost no detectable pesticides. One day, the USDA may also define a measure of what exactly constitutes a “natural” food. Until then, stick with organic products that have been evaluated against a given benchmark.

4. Make your own decision:

Natural doesn’t always mean better for everyone and every product. I’ve personally tried a few different “natural” beauty products that caused some type of allergic reaction. I’m not sure why, but I definitely won’t use those products again! Use what works for you and your family. Don’t buy and/or use something JUST because it’s organic or all natural.

What works for you and your family? What organic product do you use and love?


Filed under: LifeGoing Green

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