Natural vs. USDA Certified Organic Foods and Supplements

What is the difference between chicken for sale in your local supermarket labelled “all natural” vs. the one labelled “USDA Certified Organic?” A lot, actually, so listen up!

First things first — size and weight matter when it comes to producers selling meats.  They know they will make a larger profit if they have more product, right?  Antibiotics and growth hormones are often given to animals raised for food production.  Those toxins are passed along to you and your family when you consume these foods.

USDA stands for the United States Department of Agriculture.  Their mission is to “provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management (www.usda.gov).”

Organic Agriculture produces products using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics. USDA organic standards (available on their website) describe how farmers grow crops and raise livestock and which materials they may use.

Organic farmers, ranchers, and food processors follow a defined set of standards to produce organic food and fiber. Congress described general organic principles in the Organic Foods Production Act, and the USDA defines specific organic standards. These standards cover the product from farm to table, including soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices, and rules for food additives.

Organic farms and processors:

  • Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
  • Support animal health and welfare
  • Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors
  • Only use approved materials
  • Do not use genetically modified ingredients
  • Receive annual onsite inspections
  • Separate organic food from non-organic food

Manufacturers know that more people today are looking for all natural alternatives and therefore they market their brand to appear as such.  If you pay attention closely while grocery shopping, you will be surprised at how many items say “all natural” but do not have the “USDA Certified Organic” label.

Furthermore, you need to be aware of often misleading labels including:  No hormones added, Raised without antibiotics, and Free range.  These do not mean they don’t contain other toxins!

The difference:

“Natural” refers to foods and supplements that are not altered chemically, while certified organic refers to those items regulated and approved by the USDA, manufactured completely organically and within the standards set forth by their Organic Food Products Act.  Any manufacturer can put “all natural” on their label while the product still contains harmful toxins including growth hormones and pesticides used in production.

Organic-vs-Natural

Make sure to look for 100% USDA Certified Organic foods.  Do not be fooled by the labels that say “all natural” or “organic.”  There is such thing as “mostly organic” which only requires 70% of the ingredients to be truly organic. What’s in that other 30%? You got it!

In my personal experience, taste is not compromised when consuming 100% organic foods! I think they taste even better and you certainly have more peace of mind knowing you are making a contribution to your health, and your family’s health. Also, the cost is pretty comparable, at least in my zip code.  I do not mind paying a tad more to ensure my family is eating healthier foods.   After all, your family’s health is your most valuable investment.

Know the labels (note the natural label states “minimally processed!” That is not 100% organic or natural!!

Certified-USDA-Organic      dicey-marketing

Sources:

USDA:  http://www.usda.gov

National Chicken Council:  http://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/about-the-industry/chickopedia/

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