Thursday, May 16, 2013

Is it Natural or is it Organic or is it both???

It is our contention, here at Winter Goddess Foods, that we are all stewards of the earth.  We shoulder the responsibility of making good and proper use of the resources available to us.  This includes showing respect for what we put in and on ourselves and the world we all share.  With that in mind, let's talk about what natural and organic means to the earth and to each of us.

The one main difference between the use of the words "natural" and "organic" is that the US Government does not regulate the use of the word natural on packaging, with the exception of meats and poultry.  If a package of meat is labeled as natural, it must explain how it is so.  However, this does not address how the animals were raised or fed. 

On other products labeled as natural, while it is expected that there is minimal processing and no artificial additives, without regulation to ensure standards, there is no way of knowing that for sure.  Products that are natural by description are not necessarily void of GMO's or pesticides.  Just about any processed food can be labeled as natural.

On the other hand, the USDA regulates the organic standards set by the National Organic Program set in 2002.  "Organic" means that the food or items labeled as such  are made with a set of farming and production practices defined and regulated by the USDA.  Any product calling itself organic must indicate the certification agency and list each organic ingredient on the label.  Additionally this label assures us that the product was made without the use of toxic, persistent pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics or artificial growth hormones.

The problem for most farmers, especially the small farmer is that the costs to be certified organic is prohibitive.  As mentioned in a previous blog on buying local, local farmers and growers do many things that support natural growing.  Many of these things meet the USDA regulations, but the farmers cannot afford the cost of be considered certified.  It is also a complicated process, taking a number of years to complete.  Anyone interested in the specifics of the process can go to SCS Global Services.

For many farmers and consumers local is the new organic.  Local growers are committed to sustainable growing practices, using the land in a respectful and honorable manner, and producing food that benefits the consumer on many levels.

There is much to know about what natural and organic means to each of us.  Take a moment and read the label on the food you purchase.  You can easily contribute to ensuring good, quality food in your local supermarket by expecting and accepting only the good stuff for you and your family.  If in doubt, go organic.  Believe us when we say, "you are worth it!" 

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