When you buy food labeled “natural,” what exactly are you getting? Well, when it sits on a food label in the US, the word “natural” has no regulated definition.*
“Natural” can mean any number of different things, depending on where in the US you are, who the food manufacturer is and what store is carrying the product. In fact, the FDA has said it’s okay to call high-fructose corn syrup “natural.”
But federal regulations strictly define the term “organic.” When you see “organic” on the label, you know that food was made with a set of farming and production practices defined and regulated, in great detail, by the USDA.
While “natural” assures you of little, “organic” tells you you’re buying food made without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, artificial growth hormones, sewage sludge or irradiation.
*Except when used to describe meat or poultry. According to the USDA, “natural” meat and poultry contain no artificial ingredients or added color and are only minimally processed.