What is the Difference Between Organic and All Natural?

In today's society, being green and environmentally friendly is growing more important by the day. Sustainable resources are quickly becoming the standard, and these new natural products are not only better for the environment, they're better for us, too. We hear terms like "organic" and "all-natural" thrown around a lot these days and used almost interchangeably, but what do these words really mean?


While organic and all-natural products do have a lot of similarities, it is important to understand that they are not equal. If you are thinking about integrating more green products into your shopping list, here are the most important differences between "organic" and "all-natural" products. Some of these may even surprise you.

Read the Label Carefully.

In today's society, being green and environmentally friendly is growing more important by the day. Sustainable resources are quickly becoming the standard, and these new natural products are not only better for the environment, they're better for us, too. We hear terms like "organic" and "all-natural" thrown around a lot these days and used almost interchangeably, but what do these words really mean?

While organic and all-natural products do have a lot of similarities, it is important to understand that they are not equal. If you are thinking about integrating more green products into your shopping list, here are the most important differences between "organic" and "all-natural" products. Some of these may even surprise you.

Organic is one thing, but the term "all-natural" is something very different. "All natural" goods are produced using minimal manufacturing processes or contain no synthetic ingredients or artificial flavors and colors, but don't take the term "all-natural" at face value. There are no federal regulations that must be met for an item to be labeled "all natural," so the term can be used a little more loosely than the word "organic." If a product has only one natural ingredient, it can still be labeled as "all natural."

Organic food: How was it grown?

When it comes to food in particular, the term "all natural" does not usually relate to the methods used for growing or preservation, but organic foods have strict regulations regarding these processes. Organic foods must be produced without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, antibiotics, genetic engineering, irradiation, and hormones. Also, the locations of where organic foods are produced and handled are inspected to make sure all the practices meet the rules and standards.

Regulation of Meat and Poultry

While the term "all natural" is generally not regulated in most areas, the regulations increase when it comes to meat and poultry, so you can take the label a little more seriously. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service requires all meat and poultry labeled as "all natural" to be free of artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, and sweeteners. All natural foods must also be minimally processed. While you can be a little more comfortable knowing that no artificial byproducts were added to your meats, the "all natural" meat and poultry label says nothing of how the animals were raised or farmed, so the animals might have received hormone or antibiotic injections.

All Natural vs. Organic: What Do They Mean to You?

The difference between "organic" and "all natural" really all comes down to advertising and marketing practices. To avoid being duped by advertising, it is important to read labels carefully to confirm which ingredients were used in all food and products you buy. If you take the labels seriously, you can make a better, more educated decision regarding whether or not a product is really as "natural" and "organic" as it claims to be. To give you a head start on your smart shopping list, some ingredients you might want to avoid are sodium lauryl sulfate, mercury, lead, and phthalates. If you see these ingredients on a product labeled "all natural," you should definitely stop using the product and look for a more natural alternative.

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