Most people find it confusing to determine the difference between organic and natural foods, and it can get confusing when shopping at the grocery store. People believe that the terms “organic” and “natural” mean the same thing. However, this is not true at all. In terms of definition, the difference between the two is as clear as day and night. Usually, the term “natural food” is applicable to food labeling and marketing processes with a wide variety of meanings and implications.
When talking about natural foods, the assumption is that the foods are minimally processed and that all the ingredients present in that food are obtained from natural sources. Natural foods aren’t subject to stringent food regulations.
Organic foods, on the other hand, is a term used to refer to foods grown with no toxic or synthetic chemicals, herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides. In the case of animals, no growth hormones or antibiotics are used in rearing the animals. Organic foods are also subjected to stringent food regulation systems. Read below for an in-depth look at the major differences between organic and natural foods.
Definition of Natural Foods
By definition, natural foods are minimally processed foods. They don’t contain any form of food additives, including hormones, pesticides, sweeteners, artificial flavors, or colors. Just as the name suggests, natural foods have zero synthetic or artificial ingredients. Natural foods are not governed by any specific food laws or food regulations.
Definition of Organic Foods
Organic foods refer to foods produced by the use of organic farming methods. The main objective of organic farming methods is to maintain the cultural, mechanical, and biological practices that are geared towards enhancing natural resources and encouraging ecological balance, as well as the protection of the ecosystem.
The production of organic foods has been on a sharp rise in the past few years. With organic foods, you can expect to enjoy foods that are free from harmful synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, and growth hormones.
Entities responsible for producing organic foods are usually subjected to strict certifications by various third-party bodies who confirm and certify that their products and processes are 100% organic. As a result, organic foods are perceived to be healthier and more nutritious compared to other food types on the market, including natural foods.
It is worth pointing out that all organic foods can be categorized as natural foods but not all natural foods can be categorized as organic foods.
Differences in Certification Agencies
Organic foods are some of the most heavily regulated food systems in the world. Most countries have certification standards for organic foods, and these may vary from one jurisdiction to another. For example, in the United States, the body responsible for regulating organic foods is the United States Department of Agriculture. Natural foods, on the other hand, are not governed by strict food regulation systems throughout the world.
Guidelines and Requirements for Organic and Natural Foods
With natural foods, there are no guidelines regarding the use of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and genetically modified organisms. Usually, any guidelines for the manufacture of natural products are established by the company, and they may never be assessed by third parties.
With organic products, there is no use for artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, and irradiated products in the manufacture of the foods. The requirements for manufacturing organic foods are normally established by a food regulation body, and the guidelines are verified by third parties.
Differences in Food Labels
The labels for natural foods are usually used loosely or freely without considering any legal implications. This is because there are no clear guidelines when it comes to manufacturing or even labeling natural foods.
The labels on organic foods, on the other hand, come with legal implications. By law, every manufacturer dealing with organic foods have to follow specified rules and regulations before they can use the organic label on their foods.
The Difference in Food Demand
The demand for organic foods has grown considerably over the past few years, and it has even surpassed the demand for natural foods. Organic foods are also readily available in different cities across the world, and people are more open to buying them.
The demand for natural foods is also relatively high, but not as much as that for organic foods.
Differences in Health Benefits
Currently, there is no concrete scientific evidence to suggest that organic foods are healthier than natural foods or non-organic foods. The love for organic foods is due to the fact that they make people feel that they are safer than conventional foods due to the strict rules and regulations adhered to during their production.
However, there are recent studies that suggest that organic milk may come with certain health benefits that won’t normally be found in the other types of milk. Additionally, some studies suggest that organic foods may lead to increased absorption of nutrients by the body, and reduced exposure to antioxidants and toxic heavy metals.
Natural foods, on the other hand, are referred to by most people, because the foods don’t undergo excessive processing that may end up disturbing their implicit health benefits.
Differences in Food Prices
Organic foods are priced relatively higher than non-organic foods. This is due to the additional guidelines that must be followed during the manufacturing process. Natural foods, on the other hand, are priced higher than processed foods. This is a result of the perception that they are healthier and, in more demand, than processed foods.
Differences in Shelf Life
Organic foods have a relatively longer shelf life than most of their natural counterparts. This means that you can store organic foods safely, and for longer, compared to natural foods. Natural foods usually undergo minimal processing. As a result, they have higher water content, and this shortens their shelf life.
Difference in Safety
Natural foods are thought to be less safe and less healthy compared to organic foods. The reason for this, is that organic foods are heavily regulated by reputable bodies, hence, making them slightly more credible, safer options. This does not apply to natural foods, which are rarely governed by food systems.
The difference between organic foods and natural foods is notable, in many ways including safety, shelf life, food prices, health benefits, and demand. The decision as to which works best for you, depends on a variety of lifestyle considerations. Feel free to consult with us, at Allons Vert, regarding everything related, including nutritional information.