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Organic Versus Natural, How To Tell The Difference!

Jan 24, 2008
With our increasingly toxic environment, more and more people are opting for organic food. But unless you really understand the labels on food you may not be getting the real deal!

First of all people can get confused with, All Natural, and Organic. The USDA's National Organic Standards does not regulate the term Natural when it comes to fruits and vegetables, however, the Food Safety and Inspection Services does regulate the term all natural when it comes to meat. When a cut of meat is labeled All Natural, it simply means that it has not been injected to make it juicier or plumper and color and preservatives have not been added and has been minimally processed. It may or may not be organic.

The problem here is that there are different types of farms. There are feed farms where cattle are kept indoors and are fed unnatural grains. These farms need to give their cattle antibiotics because of the high disease rate. Growth hormones are often used to make them fatter. They may be eating organic grains but that does not mean you are getting the healthiest meat.

The best meat is where livestock is on free roaming farms where the farm itself has been certified organic and the cows are eating a true and natural diet. The environment for them is calm and nature runs its course with them. Livestock that is in an enclosed or feed farm can be much more stressed.

The problem with eating meat that has been injected with hormones is that it can make you fat. It makes the cattle fat and possibly you too! That goes for dairy as well. You may have noticed over the last decade that girls are developing at younger and younger ages. There has been some research that has been done which suggests that hormones from meat and dairy may be responsible for this, although more testing needs to be done.

Now for fruits and vegetables it is a different matter. A number system has been developed to identify organic produce, as well as produce grown the commercial way, with pesticides and chemicals. In most grocery stores there is a section set aside for organic foods but in the produce aisle you can also find organic. You just have to know what to look for. There is an oval sticker on the produce and it will have either 4 or 5 digits on it.

Example: A tangerine might read 4053. Anything that starts with a 3 or 4 means that is was grown with pesticides and chemicals.

A 5 digit number, denotes it was grown organically. Example; an organic tangerine would read 94053. If you have a 5 digit number that starts with 9, you have organic produce.

There is another set of numbers that personally scare me and that is a 5 digit number that starts with 8. Example; a tangerine labeled 84053. That would be a tangerine that was genetically engineered. There is a growing wave of concern about genetically modified food. More studies need to be done on this.

There are standards for organic as well. The best is when you read the term "100% organic"! This means that every aspect from growing and products used are in fact 100% certified organic. Then there is just the term, "Organic". This could be 95 to 97% organic.

Now that we know the difference between natural and organic, and what the stickers at the grocery store means, we as a population are better educated about our food supply and healthier decisions can be made.

Certified organic foods have a higher nutrient content and higher antioxidant capacity. That alone is a good reason to go organic. It may cost more but would be worth it.

Want to be healthier? Eat Organic and see if you notice the difference!
About the Author
Willie is a researcher and freelance writer whose own health problems prompted her to gain information on health and wellness and share that knowledge with others. She is co-owner of http://www.cleanbodydetox.com a site that focuses on detox through ionic foot baths and foot massagers .
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