It seems that as of lately every product in the supermarket is labeled as organic, all natural or healthy. Many people make the mistake of using these words interchangeably, when they in fact mean very different things. Here is a guide to help you navigate through the labels.
–Organic foods are grown without artificial pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides. Organic meat, eggs, and dairy products are obtained from animals that are fed natural feed and not given hormones or antibiotics.
–Natural foods are free of synthetic or artificial ingredients or additives.
–“Health foods” is a general term that may be applied to natural or organic foods, or to regular foods that have undergone less processing than usual, such as stone-ground whole-grain flours.
Although some have claimed that organic foods have a higher concentration of some nutrients, the evidence is mixed. The nutritional content of foods also varies greatly according to when the food was harvested and how it has been stored or processed. Unless they are fresher, there is also no evidence that organic, natural, or health foods taste better than regular foods. However, taste is determined by plant genetics, rather than by whether the crop is organically or conventionally grown. Harvesting and handling also affect taste.
Although the type of fertilizer may not affect taste or nutrition, it does have an effect on the environment. Many people prefer to pay premium prices for organic foods because their production does not cause environmental damage from pesticides and herbicides, and composted fertilizers help restore soil and are not as damaging to the environment as artificial fertilizers. However, simply stating “organic” does not protect the food from being contaminated from field to market.