Sunday, April 3, 2011

Organic or Natural Food Debate-which is better?

Some of you may be able to answer this already, which is great.  I know organic is better but have always struggled trying to explain it to  people.  I know that through the certification process the word "natural" become watered down as to what it means.

Today I was thumbing through Natural Awakenings, a free publication I picked up at Whole Foods, while in Little Rock.  Inside I found an article entitled, "America's Growing Food Revolution; An Insider's Guide to Sustainable Choices" by Lisa Marshall.  Skimming through the article I stopped when I read  Maria Rodale's name of the famous Rodale family.  She writes:  "If you do just one thing-make one conscious choice-that can change the world, go organic."  In the debate between local, organic and natural I've often heard it is better to buy local, then organic and when given no other choices, natural.  I think when she is advocating organic is if people demand it, it could change revert farming to a more natural choice over the industrial farming that has become the norm.  I agree with this idea completely.

The article goes on:  "One 2009 survey by The Shelton Group found that out of 1,000 shoppers, 31 percent looked for the "natural"  label while 11 percent looked for "organic"  There is a giant misconception among consumers that somehow natural is the word that is regulated and organic is not.  In fact, it is actually the other way around," says CEO Suzanne Shelton.  "Law mandates that U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) products labeled organic be free of pesticides, hormones and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and that animals be given access to the outdoors."  I believe this part to be true but I have heard that even some organic animals are raised in cages but outside.  This is where I know, for me, it is important to know the farmer so I can ask questions about how their animals are raised.

The article then says:  "By contrast, the Food and Drug Administration vaguely describes natural as, "Nothing artificial or synthetic has been included in, or has been added to a food that would not normally be expected to be in the food."  With the exception of meat, it is up to the manufacturer to define what natural really means.  (In 2009, the USDA defined "naturally raised" meat as, ..."raised entirely without growth promoters, antibiotics, and never been fed animal byproducts."  It says nothing about GMOs or humane animal treatment."

It's confusing for many (even my mom will say "I bought the good stuff-it says natural") but for my family I need to know animals have been treated humanely-like animal living on farms, just like the farms of our childhood.   This article makes the difference clear to me. 

Other news:  I'm in the process of making Chinoiseries' quiche recipe I discovered while reading through Beth Fish Read's Weekend Cooking posts.  I couldn't find puff pastry, even though I know it has to be there but decided to make my own crust instead.  She based her quiche recipe on this Vegetarian Times one.

1 comment:

NatalieSap said...

Thanks for this - I cut meat completely out of my diet for awhile because I couldn't figure out the crazy labels. Now I stick to Whole Foods when I visit my parents - I still read the crazy labels, but at least I feel safer there! Though I never really trusted either Natural or Organic; I'm more for the fine print that tells me exactly all of the conditions.