How to Tell the Difference Between Health Food, Natural Food, and Organic Food

Is the food I buy at the health food store organic?

Just because you purchased food at the health food store, it does not necessarily mean the food is organic. Health foods are simply foods that make claims that they are good for you. According to the FDA a food is considered a health food if the labeling “describes a relationship between a food, food component, or dietary supplement ingredient, and reducing risk of a disease or health-related condition”. The FDA strictly regulates the benefits health foods claim to have. An allowable label would be “this calcium rich food can guard against osteoporosis. Foods considered health foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, berries, and some lean meats.

If my item is labeled “natural”, does that mean it is organic?

Although some organic foods are natural, not all natural foods are organic. According to the USDA, natural foods are manufactured without fundamentally altering the raw product. More specifically, no colorings or artificial ingredients are added. Some natural foods are Raw, Turbinado, and pure cane sugar, honey, unbleached whole-wheat flour, brown rice, etc.

How do I know If my food is organic?

Organic foods carry a label that certifies it as organic. This means a government inspector has visited the farm or plant where the food is processed and certified that they have met all USDA criteria for organic certification. This criterion includes using renewable resources, eliminating pesticides, not using bioengineering, radiation, antibiotics or growth hormones. You will find organic poultry, beef, dairy, eggs, fruit, and vegetables.

Is organic food better than non-organic foods?

While the FDA does not officially recommend organic foods over non-organic foods, they have gone through great pains to make designations between the two. In addition, in an effort to present children with healthy food choices and habits, some schools, in particular, Lincoln Elementary in Olympia WA offers salad bars with organic fruits and vegetables. Globally, sales for organic and natural foods have grown by 20 to 30% annually in recent years. Food scares such as mad cow disease e-coli contaminations and pesticide poisonings have helped to spur this change. In addition, pesticides, hormones and other food additives have been known to have adverse health effects like cancer, allergies, and other hyperactivity in children.

Unfortunately, the price of organic foods is substantially higher than conventional foods. As production and demand increases, the price should make organic foods the most desirable option.

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