Organic vs. Natural—What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between organic and natural foods? Are they the same?

Food labeling can be very confusing, even for a dietitian like myself. You’d think “natural” foods are safe and healthy. But “natural” is not the same as “organic” and comes with absolutely no guarantees. “Natural” foods are often assumed to be minimally processed items that do not contain any hormones, antibiotics, or artificial flavors. However, in the United States, the FDA and the USDA do not have rules or regulations for products labeled “natural.”

So, what does organic mean? Organic foods are the most heavily regulated foods in production. The label “100% Organic” guarantees no toxic synthetic pesticides, toxic synthetic herbicides, or fertilizers from chemical nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium (NPK) are used in production. It also means that no antibiotics or growth hormones are given to animals. Organic producers and processors are also subject to inspections for certification. This ensures they’re producing and processing organic products in a way that you and your family can trust.

Know Your Label Lingo:

  • 100% Organic = 100% organic ingredients and may display the USDA Organic seal.
  • Organic = At least 95–99% organic ingredients and may display the USDA Organic seal.
  • Made with Organic Ingredients = Must contain 70–94% organic ingredients but are not allowed to bear the USDA Organic seal.

Stay informed as a consumer. Read your labels and avoid any marketing gimmicks!
– True Health Clinical Health Consultant Jody Drange, RD, CDE, ACSM EP-C
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All True Health Diagnostics materials are provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on contents of this information. Readers should always consult the appropriate health professional on any matters related to their health