What Is "Natural" Food?

natural foods and produce

If you were given a choice between buying “natural” food and food that isn’t labeled as such (unnatural food?), what would you go with? Almost sounds like a no-brainer, right? And it’s no surprise. Over time, “natural” has become synonymous with health, purity, and wholesomeness. Sales of all-natural foods have grown at a healthy rate over the last decade in the U.S. and worldwide. Almost every food and beverage manufacturer tends to find a way to incorporate “natural” into their labeling. However, have you given thought to whether it really is natural? More to the point, how would you define natural food? 

What Is Natural Food, Really?

When you think about it, it’s not naturally evident what “natural” food means. It’s certainly not the same as organic. The difference between organic and natural food is significant, and we’ll get to that in a minute. 

Many consumers take “natural” to mean something that is not processed or does not contain any additives or preservatives. But there’s nothing stopping manufacturers from adding preservatives derived from other foods or plants to your product. In fact, there’s not much stopping them from doing anything at all. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the use of the term “natural.” This has led to a bit of a free-for-all where food producers will tack the term “natural” onto their label, and as long as it looks and feels natural and isn’t obviously false, it won’t be challenged. 

But What If I Want to Commit to All-Natural Food

The good news is, there is increasingly a collective awareness of what is natural food and what isn’t. Around 2009, food manufacturers were hit with a wave of lawsuits, arguing that their use of the term “natural” was deceptive. Plaintiffs challenged all kinds of products, from fruit juices to granola bars, ice cream, and even bread. This led to calls for the FDA to standardize the term. While that didn’t materialize, it did release a non-binding policy that defines “natural” to mean that “nothing artificial or synthetic (including colors regardless of source) is included in, or has been added to, the product that would not normally be expected to be there."

Transparency is key. For consumers to differentiate between what is natural food and what isn’t, labels have to be as detailed as possible. They need to list not just all the ingredients, but also the processes they have been subjected to, with avenues for the consumer to further research and ascertain those claims if they want to. 

What Is the Difference Between Organic and Natural Food? 

Organic food is more easily identifiable since the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) strictly regulates it. Organic foods must be grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, genetic engineering, irradiation, or growth hormones. While all organic foods are, by definition, natural, not all natural foods are organic. Any natural ingredients — such as vitamins — that are extracted with chemical processes aren’t allowed in organic food. 

Buy Only All-Natural at Wildly Organic

The best way to purge any confusion over what food is natural and what isn’t is to only buy from trusted brands. Wildly Organic is an independent, family-owned company, established with the sole purpose of helping people lead healthier and happier lives. We believe that real nutrition only comes when there is minimal to no intervention with the raw produce. With us, you don’t have to worry about the difference between organic and natural food either. While all our products are natural, most of them are organic too — and clearly labeled as such so you know exactly what you’re buying. 

Read through our FAQs for more information on our natural foods and what it is that makes them different from anything else you’ve experienced. We’re also delighted to take any questions you have about our products or sourcing methods. Reach out to us anytime.


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