Natural vs Organic


If you have turned your tv on recently, or walked into the grocery store this year, you have probably noticed the surge in “all-natural” products. I’m talking about companies like FritoLay that are starting to market their products as “all-natural.”  The chip commercials with pristine vegetables, the sparkling white kitchen and beautiful cutting board with mom and son sharing in a “Hallmark” family moment. They are about as picturesque and healthy looking as you can imagine. So why wouldn’t I be convinced that this product is healthier for me and seemingly (without realizing it) giving me the same benefits as organic, but at a cheaper cost?

The term “all-natural” is assumed to imply foods that are minimally processed and do not contain manufactured ingredients, but the lack of standards means that the term assures nothing. RW Welch from the Oxford Journal says it plainly, “Fundamentally, almost all foodstuffs are derived from the natural products of plants and animals and therefore any definition of natural food results in an arbitrary exclusion or inclusion of food ingredients; likewise, since almost all foods are processed in some way, either mechanically, chemically, or by temperature, it is difficult to define which types of food processing is natural.

According to the USDA, “natural” means food that “contains no artificial ingredients or added colors and is minimally processed.” However, their are no standards or guidelines that companies have to follow in order to freely advertise they are “all-natural.”

The Skinny:

  1. There is practically no enforcement or stringent standards.
  2. “Natural” has been grossly misused as a marketing technique.
  3. “Natural” can include genetically-modified foods (GMOs) and growth hormones, both of which we know are very, very unhealthy. For example: Chicken injected with saline solution up to 25% of its weight and still labeled as “all-natural”
  4. Most conventionally-made potato chips and snack foods are made from GMOs. Not to mention the fact that they are heavily sprayed with toxic chemicals.

Mike Adams from wrote, “The point is that a food manufacturer can take anything that occurs somewhere in nature and refine it to increase the potency by a factor of 1000 times or more, and then claim that their product is “all natural.” The key is in understanding that it’s the process that’s unnatural, not the source. When you chemically or structurally alter food ingredients into a form that no longer appears anywhere in nature, it’s no longer natural.

The food companies have poured billions into advertising products as natural because they get to charge more for a seemingly healthier item. The problem: they have succeeded. The general public considers “natural” food equally healthy if not more than organic foods.

Organic foods on the other hand have very strict and regulated standards. Organic foods can not contain GMOs, cannot use any pesticides or chemical fertilizers, cannot be processed using irradiation, industrial solvents or chemical food additives. As a consumer, be skeptical – don’t be fooled by the propaganda of “all-natural” food labels. Buy organic and support the process of being certified , or buy local and ask the tough questions.