The USDA definition of “natural”
applies to how the animal product was processed instead of how it was raised. Farmers and manufacturers can apply the natural label when their product contains no added colors or artificial ingredients, and have not been processed in such a way as to fundamentally alter the raw product (minimally processed). Neither the USDA or FDA regulates or defines the term “natural”, nor do they require independent inspections or proof of processing, leaving the decision up to the manufacturer. It has become a catch phase on labels as a marketing campaign to sell to the more health conscious public who may not understand the difference.
Organic suppliers are the most heavily regulated and subject to announced and unannounced certified inspections to ensure they are adhering to the USDA organic standards. So when you are looking at the cost difference between a “natural” and “organic” product, you can understand why organic generally costs more but has the health benefit you were wanting in the first place. The organic label promises you that your food contains no toxic pesticides, growth hormones, petroleum based fertilizers, artificial colors or flavors, artificial preservatives, irradiated ingredients or genetically modified organisms.
Why is organic better than conventional or natural? Pesticide and fertilizer runoff from farmlands wash into rivers and lakes contaminating and destroying habitats. Many pesticides are also toxic to humans using them or living near farms. They have been linked to respiratory problems, neurologic disorders and cancer. Organic farmers concentrate on soil and water conservation, along with humane treatment of livestock.
Read more at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop
Referenced article: National Resources Defense Council, October 2009
by Solvie Karstrom
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