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Natural vs Organic

January 25, 2012

Natural vs Organic

What is the difference between natural and organic?

Initially, the terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ were used to describe products made with ingredients that came from nature.  Unfortunately, as soon as marketers learned that consumers enjoyed the idea of non-synthetic products, the words began to appear on all sorts of products, whether they were truthful or not. It’s called green-washing, and it’s possible because consumers have to be well-informed in order to distinguish frauds from the real deal.  Honest, natural products contain ingredients from plants and nature and are minimally processed.  Organic products take ‘natural’ several steps further: they are made with non-GMO ingredients that have been grown, raised, harvested, manufactured and preserved without chemical herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, antibiotics – giving you products with fewer contaminants.  All of these extra steps cost more in organic farming and processing, which is why organic products tend to cost more.  This, of course, is part of the problem; as soon as manufacturers realize consumers will pay more for a product with ‘organic’ on the label, the word starts to appear.  And here are some of the tricks used: the chemical definition of organic is "a compound that contains a carbon atom."  Since carbon is found in anything that lives or has ever lived, unscrupulous companies use synthetic chemicals derived from petroleum products, describing them as organic preservatives.  This use of the word, of course, has nothing at all to do with the reason you might be interested in the product.   Another label deception?  Since water is the primary ingredient in many products, some manufacturers claim to use organic floral waters or hydrosols.  Look at the label a little closer and you’ll also see synthetic toxic ingredients.  That’s your first clue the product has been green-washed and that you’ll want to put it back on the shelf!  Pay attention to phrases like ‘derived from’ – which indicates that something was done to your natural ingredient to turn it into something no longer natural.  Having said that, however, chemical reactions take place all the time – even naturally – turning one thing into another.  For example, soap is the result of combining a fat, like coconut oil, with a salt, like sodium hydroxide - two natural ingredients coming together to create a whole new item.  The bottom line is that you should educate yourself on what sorts of ingredients you want to avoid and make informed purchasing decisions.   Please see for more information on chemicals to avoid.

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