Thursday, July 16, 2009

So-Called 'Natural' Foods Aren't Always Organic

There's still much confusion regarding foods that are "natural" versus foods that are "organic".

Certified organic food products are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and are produced by farmers and manufacturers under a strict set of rules. But the agency defines the term "natural" only for meat and poultry. In the rest of the food industry, the meaning is largely up to the producer.

Adding to advocates' concerns, a new study shows wide confusion among American consumers about products aimed at the green market. Many mistakenly believe that "natural" is a greener term than "organic."

Sara Loveday, Deans Foods Co. communications manager, said Horizon had created its own definition of "natural." 

"To us, it means it's produced without added hormones, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup," Loveday said.

That's a good start, said Kastel, senior farm policy analyst for Cornucopia.

"But Dean Foods will not be able to [say] the products are produced without pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and other drugs or genetically modified feed crops, or that the cows are required to graze in pastures rather than confined to factory farm feedlots," he said. 

"These are all factors that truly differentiate organic production from natural/conventional agricultural and livestock production." 


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