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Natural vs Organic: What's the Difference?

As a society, we are a lot more conscious of terms like natural, non-GMO, and cage free, and organic these days. Many supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants will feature local, organic, or natural foods.

With all this green food terminology, it can be hard to keep it all straight. Maybe you are looking to stay away from pesticides on produce or the antibiotics some companies give to their livestock.

Whatever the reason may be, it’s good to know that not all these terms are interchangeable. For example, natural does not necessarily mean it will also be organic. Here’s how to spot the difference next time you are walking the aisles at the grocery store.


“Natural” is a catch-all term used by many food corporations in an attempt to jump on the health food bandwagon.

A lot of companies will use green packaging, and terms like “all natural”.  

Even a ton of your favorite sweets and other junk foods are “natural”, because the FDA has loose regulations on what can be considered for this label. Example? Corn syrup can be natural by the FDA’s definition!

In order to pass regulation, a product just needs to be made without synthetic flavoring or preservatives. But will companies still add extra flavoring and even chemicals to make food smell more appealing to the consumer!

If pesticides or GMOs are your concern, the FDA also doesn’t limit them from being in foods labeled natural.

In conclusion, natural foods don’t always equal chemical-free or healthy to consume, so check the ingredients on the package.


In contrast to natural foods, in order for a food to be deemed organic, the FDA requires 95% of the ingredients to be organically produced. The remaining ingredients are much more regulated than foods just labeled natural.

If you’re looking for 100% organic, products must be just that in order to have the official stamp of approval from the FDA. Have noticed a package that claims their product is made with organic ingredients? That’s different, so keep an eye out for that in stores.

Eating Green

The path to being more conscious of what we consume is always a work in progress!

Whether you’re trying to be more aware of labels, or you are already on the organic path, there’s a takeaway here.  Organic means the product you are buying is more strictly regulated and therefore preferable to the vaguer natural label.

This Blog post was written by contributors from AE Palmer Copy.


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