There is this silent war that is being waged in the most unlikely of places – our farms. The combatants – natural and organic food. It has dragged on for far too long, so much so that the war has spilled over into our supermarkets, groceries, fruit stores, vegetable and fruit stands, and consequently, into our dining tables as well. Which is healthier, safer, and better to eat? Is there even a difference between the two at all?
Extensively used in marketing and labeling of many food products, natural foods have become harder than ever to define, with their many definitions and inconsistencies. The general idea is that natural foods involve less processing and no artificial additives. However, the lack of international standards only makes defining natural food products pretty much like pinning the tail on a galloping donkey.
Organic food is the exact opposite of natural food. Strict organic farming standards vary from place to place, but the aim to promote biodiversity and eco-friendly practices is universal. Only food products that follow these standards can be labeled as organic food.
In places like the United States, Japan, Canada, and the European Union (to name a few), food producers are required to go through a rigid certification program before they label their products as organic. Regulations are dictated by both international bodies and national governments such as the US Department of Agriculture in the US or the European Commission.
Natural food vs Organic food
So, what is the difference between natural food and organic food? Just about everything.
Natural food answers to no one. There are no regulations (except for meat and poultry producers), no guidelines to follow, hence no special certification for natural food producers to submit to. On the flipside is organic food – heavily regulated, and required to pass stringent standards to be labeled as such.
All organic food producers, big or small, are mandated not to use toxic chemicals such as animal growth hormones, synthetic herbicides, NPK fertilizers, and antibiotics. Any corporate marketing department can slap an all-natural food label on their food products and get away it. Tomacco, anyone?
Improper labeling, countless advertisements hailing natural food as chemical-free have seen many consumers prefer foods with a natural label on it. What is equally surprising is that more people even believe natural foods are free from artificial ingredients.
It is also interesting to note that there is not enough scientific evidence to further the claim that organic foods are superior to natural foods in terms of taste, nutrients, and health benefits, although there are findings that show a few differences between the nutrient contents of conventional and organic foods. It is the unpredictable nature of food growing that makes it hard to back any benefit claims of either of the two.
|Natural food||Organic food|
|No production guidelines||Involves stringent standards|
|Makes use of artificial additives and processes||Promotes biodiversity and eco-friendly practices|
|May involve toxic chemicals, fertilizers and herbicides||Free from toxic chemicals|