Thursday, September 30, 2010

"All Natural" vs. "Organic"

Earlier this week, ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s (owned by Unilever) agreed to stop using the term “all natural” on its products containing ingredients that, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, aren’t natural.

You can read the CSPI press release or any number of news stories to get the details, but it’s important to know that for most of our food supply the phrase “all natural” has no structure behind it. Thus, food companies are left to their own devices and market items (usually packaged) that are not as healthy as overwhelmed consumers believe them to be.

(When was the last time you saw an "all natural" sticker affixed to a tomato or grapefruit?)

Part of the problem lies in the split oversight of our food supply, with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sharing responsibility. The USDA sets guidelines for “natural,” while the FDA does not.

However, as
I’ve mentioned before, the term “organic” has definitive meaning.

According to the USDA:
Organic crops are raised without using most conventional pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Animals raised on an organic operation must be fed organic feed and given access to the outdoors. They are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.

The (National Organic Program) regulations prohibit the use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge in organic production and handling.
In addition, converting farmland from conventional to organic is a three-year process.

1 comment:

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