Over the last few decades, the organic and natural food industry has grown significantly with different production, distribution and retail systems.
These days, organic ingredients are often found in most products, from food to skin care. However, before you buy anything, it is very important to know what organic and natural means, do natural foods have the same safety and health benefits as organic foods?
As reported Indian Expressone of the founders youcarelifestyle.com as well as a healthy lifestyle coach, Luke Coutinho tries to break the common myth in society about the natural food discourse. He says that “Natural doesn’t always mean organic.”
National Organic Program [NOP] under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] defines organic products as raw materials produced by farmers and can conserve land, water, and renewable resources to improve environmental quality in order to improve the quality of life of future generations.
Coutinho explained that organic products are born from holistic agricultural practices that focus on biodiversity, soil health, chemical-free inputs, and others. This is done with a CSR approach method such as environmental and social responsibility in accordance with organic production standards.
Furthermore, Luke said that organic food is not necessarily the same as healthy food. For example, organic butter has the same fat and calories as regular butter.
“Even though organic food has cleaner ingredients, organic butter can’t help you lose weight. Concept mindful eating should always be a priority,” he said.
Products labeled “natural” are generally processed with minimal ingredients or even free from synthetic or artificial additives. These items are not chemically altered so they contain fewer preservatives and artificial ingredients. “However, natural products cannot be categorized like organic products,” he said.
“A product is considered natural when it contains ingredients found in nature, such as fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products. You can also see herbs and spices in some natural products. As a result, the flavoring or coloring is made from natural ingredients. But one drawback is that the production of natural food has not been regulated by the state, so many producers abuse it,” he added.
According to Coutinho, fraud and mislabeling can occur when food business owners label a product as organic when it contains non-organic ingredients or when organic standards are not followed.
“If organic food is certified, it means that it must meet the established standards,” he said.
Coutinho highlighted that the words “natural” and “organic” may sound the same but are actually different.
“Organic products are grown without the use of synthetic chemicals such as pesticides, conventional fertilizers and contain no genetically modified organisms (GMOs), while natural products do not promise any of this but may be free of synthetic or artificial ingredients or additives,” he explained.
Fruits and vegetables are examples of organics. Certified organic fruit and vegetables grown in soil free from harmful synthetic chemicals and pesticides.
Organic products are always supervised by certified bodies and according to strict guidelines. While natural products are not certified. All organic products can be considered natural, but not all natural products can be considered organic.
“Nevertheless, natural products are still healthier and safer than conventional products,” he added.
As a consumer, what you have to do is choose a product based on its ingredients, and not from the label claims attached to the packaging. Take a look at the nutrition facts and ingredients and decide what ingredients are important to you.
“Studies also show that pesticides can cause potential damage to the nervous system, endocrine system and immune system leading to an increased risk of cancer,” Coutinho said.
“Often people are hesitant to buy organic food because they don’t believe in its authenticity. Therefore, it is always wise to read nutrition labels before buying. “(M-4)