Many people think that if something says “all natural,” that it is a healthy food. This is a common mistake that a lot of companies are counting on consumers to make in order to sell more product at a higher price. According to OrganicConsumers.org, “approximately 2/3 of the products sold by Whole Foods Market and their main distributor, United Natural Foods (UNFI) are not certified organic, but rather are conventional (chemical-intensive and GMO-tainted) foods and products disguised as “natural.”" Consumers are left footing a higher bill for a product that they think is healthier, when in all reality they have been subjected to a marketing ploy.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of wonderful and healthier products out there that are labeled natural, but it’s still important to know the difference between natural and organic.
According to the FDA, food can only be labeled all natural if it contains no artificial ingredients or added colors and is minimally processed. Animals and products artificially raised through hormones and genetically modified organisms (GMO) can still be labeled natural. There are a multitude of additives that are on the “all natural list”, that should not be! Many of these do not have to be included on ingredient labels if the company lists “natural flavor” on the product. I wonder what all they try to hide behind that generic term?
For something to receive USDA Organic certification it must meet the following requirements: ”Farm avoidance of most synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc), genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge (Wikipedia)” (can you believe they even have to say this last one??). The farmland also has to have been free from synthetic chemicals for at least three or more years. Unfortunately, just recently the organic companies caved and our now agreeing to allow GMOs in some organic products.
- Products labeled as “100 percent organic” must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients and processing aids.
- Products labeled “organic” must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Any remaining product ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances approved on the National List including specific non-organically produced agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form.
- Processed products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients can use the phrase “made with organic ingredients” and list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on the principal display panel (USDA).
I’m not suggesting everyone throw out everything in their cabinet that says “all natural,” but it is important to know the difference between natural and organic in order make your plans for healthier eating. It’s also important to know the difference so that you are not wasting your money. The higher prices for “natural” items are based on the fact that consumers think they are getting a healthier product. Paying organic prices for a natural non-organic product is just not thrifty in my book.
Do you find that your store frequently charges higher prices by marketing “natural” products like organic, healthy items?