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Issue 111: Organic Word Play


Did you know that there are delineations for the word organic, including the terms 100% organic, organic, made with organic ingredients, and other terms not related to organic, including natural?

That may seem like a lot of organic word play, but each term is important to know, so here are some tips to make sure that you know what you are buying. Here’s the lowdown. The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) has identified three categories of labeling organic products:

100% Organic:  Made with 100% organic ingredients
Organic: Made with at least 95% organic ingredients
Made With Organic Ingredients: Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

It is important to note, however, that products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package. So keep your eyes peeled for these.

Additionally, do not mistake the term natural for organic. It’s not even close! Natural foods are not organic.  

According to an article titled Organic Myths, “Natural foods do not contain additives or preservatives, but they may contain ingredients that have been grown with pesticides, are genetically modified, or even minimally processed.  In other words, the ingredients in the ingredient panel will look familiar, but they have not been produced organically. Natural foods are hardly regulated and do not meet the same criteria that organic foods do.”

In fact the only real requirement is that the label must explain the use of the term natural, such as no added colorings or artificial ingredients or minimally processed.

Bottom line? You are going to be best served by the seal that states 100% Organic.

Only then are you going to be assured of a product being organic through and through—at least with regard to food. Not all products are held to the same standard as organic food is, so don’t forget to look for the 100% organic seal as you shop for organic goods.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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