Why Buy Organic Foods, and Are Natural Foods Different?

Demand for organic and natural foods is exploding in the U.S. Information provided by the “Nutrition Business Journal”, revealed that in 2006, sales of these foods were $28.2 billion, and they are growing at a rapid pace. Increasing numbers of us are realizing that food really matters, and that it is time to look at the quality of what we put into our bodies.We find natural and organic foods not only in the natural foods stores that specialize in this line of food products, but, increasingly, in specialized sections of our supermarkets.This report will focus on the difference between natural and organic food products.In 2002 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) established the National Organic Program (NOP), which imposes standards and regulations required for the production and sale of organic food products. The USDA also has a Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) division, which requires that natural meat and poultry products are processed without artificial and synthetic additives. But, natural food products that are not meat & poultry products have no such regulations set on them by the FSIS. Furthermore, the FSIS imposes no regulations on any natural foods products, including meat & poultry products, when it comes to the “growing and raising” of these products.So products advertised as “natural” do not have standards and are not regulated by the USDA, except for the “processing” of meat and poultry products. All other natural food products could have artificial and synthetic additives. We have to depend on the food processors to be honest about additives, if any, when they are branded as a natural food product. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers, hormones and antibiotics can be used in “growing and raising” any natural foods.Organic food products, on the other hand, must be raised, grown and processed by the standards established through the NOP program. This includes:*using organic farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity;*crops must be grown without using synthetic or waste-sludge fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, and bioengineered genes;*livestock must be free to roam and feed outside, and not be given any growth hormones or antibiotics;*all organic foods must be processed without artificial and synthetic additives.In summary, the difference between natural and organic is significant in relation to both:(1) The food processing stage;*Natural foods: only meat and poultry products are regulated, with standards set,
*Organic foods: all food products have standards that must be met,(2) how food sources are grown and raised;*Natural foods: no food products have standards or are regulated,
*Organic foods: all food products have standards and are regulated.