Does a label of natural mean that it is organic? The answer is no. On products, the natural label ideally means minimal processing and no artificial additives. You’ve decided it’s time to make the transition to more natural food and products.
Where do you start? Is it safe to trust a label?
Let’s explain the difference between organic and a label of natural.
A label of natural on meat products must explain how the product classifies as natural. A label of natural does not indicate anything about the raising, feeding or care of the animals. The lack of regulation, however, makes it difficult for consumers to determine if this is the case. In a new survey of 1,000 people by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, nearly 60 percent of people said they look for the term “natural” on food labels when they shop. About two-thirds of people surveyed said they believe the term “natural” means that a processed food has no artificial ingredients, pesticides or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). But in fact, the FDA has not developed a strict definition of the term for food labels. The agency says it won’t object to the claim “natural” as long as there are no artificial or synthetic ingredients in a particular product. “Consumers are severely misled by the natural label,” Urvashi Rangan, executive director of the Food Safety and Sustainability Center at Consumer Reports, told “CBS This Morning.” “With ‘natural,’ any manufacturer can pretty much stick it on their package,” she said. “It doesn’t mean very much.” “There is no formal definition” of the term, Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic, told CBS News. “I do think we have a gray area.” Sales of foods certified as organic and labeled “natural” are growing at a faster pace than sales in other categories. At the same time, companies like Chobani and Kellogg are facing lawsuits over their use of the word “natural” on processed foods that contain chemicals and other artificial ingredients. The Natural Products Association offers NPA Natural Seal certification on nearly 800 products in the U.S. To earn the NPA natural seal, products must be composed of at least 95% ingredients (not including water) made from petroleum-free, renewable flora, fauna and mineral resources. When used, approved synthetic ingredients must be considered people-safe and earth-friendly. Products must have environmentally-conscious packaging and never be tested on animals. Support ‘Made in the USA’
Organic certification ensures that the product met the USDA standard under the National Organic Program, which began in 2002. The organic label means that the product contains at least 95 percent organically produced and processed ingredients. You might also see a label with a percentage indicating how much of the product qualifies as organic. Any product containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients cannot use the organic label. Polls show that most US consumers are confused about the difference between organic and so-called “natural” products, with many consumers believing that “natural” means “almost organic” or even “better than organic,” but of course “natural” products are typically much cheaper than the organic varieties, yet typically cost more than conventional products not labeled “natural.” In other words, the $50 billion+ “natural” products sector is basically built upon low or non-existent standards, and this ability to charge a premium without actually having to use premium ingredients is what’s being protected by organizations fighting against GE labeling.
But you say, good to know, but I still want to live more naturally. Okay! Here are 5 tried and true suggestions.
- Read the labels carefully. Remember why you’re going natural. The label needs to clearly state there are no GMO ingredients, and the other ingredients you don’t want in your life or body anymore. Standards for certifying cotton plants and the cotton fibers that they produce as being organic because cotton seeds and cotton oils are also important food products. So your favorite cotton shirt can be made from 100% certified organic cotton even though the cotton fabric might be full of chemical finishes and heavy metal dyes. For any product sold in the U.S. – regardless of where it was grown or produced – to carry the USDA Organic logo, it must have been inspected by a certified agent of the USDA certification program. This is the current state of government regulations for organic fibers in the US. When buying products or clothing look for this label Usda_organic_logo.
- Shop local when looking for natural. Farmer’s markets and many stores have sections where you can buy “locally grown”. No guarantee this will do the trick, but locally grown is better than eating something that is called natural and been sitting on a truck for 15 hours
- Check out online sources and buy online if you can’t find what you’re looking for in your local area
- Prepare your own food over going out to restaurants. It’s great to know exactly what you’re putting in your mouth. Most homemade food is referred to as natural.
- Buy Hemp products. Along with a range of moisturizers and shampoos, hemp seed oil can be used as a base in a range of cosmetics, from foundation to lipstick to nail polish.
Keep in mind that the term natural is in no way related to organic. Certified organic food must adhere to strict guidelines, while natural food does not have to follow any across the board standards.
Here’s to going eating more “organic: and using more products and clothing “labeled” natural.