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Organic vs Natural Foods: What’s the Difference?

What clicks in your mind when you see the ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ labels on food products. Is there a difference? Let’s dig deeper into the organic vs natural foods world and see the difference.

In the American market today, you’ll find both natural and organic foods. But according to an Economic Research Service by Pew Research Center, most Americans prefer organic foods to natural ones. In fact, this Pew research center report stated under the Economic Research Service that the sale of organic foods has been doubling since 1994.

But what is the difference between organic vs natural foods? And, why is organic food consumption on the rise as compared to natural ones?

The 10% annual steady increase in the purchase of organic foods raised much concern. The study determined that several Americans believe that organic foods cater to good health more than natural ones.  

Nevertheless, the science behind this behavior is still confusing. 

Several survey reports showed results being given in favor of organic foods. And, only in the rural areas where most people preferred natural foods to organic ones. Arguably, this may have been because organic foods are hard to find in rural regions. 

To better understand the differences between organic vs natural foods, this article will explore all the characteristics of several kinds of both natural and organic foods in America. This will possibly change your perception or facilitate proper decision-making. 

Main Differences between Organic vs Natural Foods

natural vs organic foods

All-natural vs Organic


These refer to natural products processed in minimal conditions. Such foods generally require lesser regulation as compared to organic ones. Their cost of production is also favorable, and the ingredients used are rich in minerals and vitamins.

The addition of flavors, preservatives, or artificial colors is not encouraged during all-natural foods’ production. Also, they are free from synthetic pesticides and herbicides. This has been ensured to make the products suitable for human consumption despite not being regulated by USDA. 

For instance, all-natural meat products are cost-effective due to lesser concern in their regulation. The farmer who rears the all-natural animals has got all control over their farm and land. This reduces the cost, which would otherwise be high.


The phrase “organic” correlates to the process under which the processing and production were carried out. Several regulations have been put in place to guide organic foods’ production. You must get certified before you enter into organic farming

Here, everything is termed organic because the farmer carries out his activities using additives. For instance, the meal that the cow, pig, or chicken eat is organic. Also, the food consumed and the forage grasses they feed on are prepared according to USDA’s qualifications and guidelines for organics. 

In contrast to what most think, organic products are also free from synthetic substances. This means all these products are raised without applying human-made synthetic compounds like pesticides and fertilizers. Growth hormones and antibiotics should also be kept off from organics.

Their cost, however, seems to be relatively high. Arguably because of several regulations that the farmers must meet. 

Organic farmers need to be intelligent enough to understand the production requirements. Meaning that anyone who has no substantial knowledge cannot venture into this organic type.

100 Natural vs Organic

100 natural vs 100 organic

Sometimes, the labeling of organic vs natural foods can be confusing to the consumer. However, breaking this down will help you understand them better.

100% Natural

Products tagged as 100% natural means that the product has been processed minimally. Several studies show that these products are the same as those labeled ‘natural.’ The only difference is that they are prepared without as many ingredients as the natural ones. 

100% natural has no traces of additives. And, they can also be found naturally in the surroundings. Some of them include naturally existing fruits, vegetables, like those that grow on their own.

These products are very cheap, and anyone can produce them. You need very few pre-requisites to get into the system. Concern for human life and self-dedication is the key to its operation.  

100% Organic

As compared to 100% natural, 100% organic is solely controlled and regulated by USDA and FDA. The few certified farmers in this system produce food under highly tight conditions. 

These products must be free from additives, flavors, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and growth hormones. They are required to grow ‘naturally’ in the organic system. 

The costs of these products are a bit high. As we have seen above, organic food is very costly, and so is 100% organic. 

100% organic tends to be even more expensive. This is because they provide essential nutrients, and their production is significantly regulated.

A farmer must pass through a severe assessment before qualifying into 100% organic systems. This means that those who engage in the system are technically competent farmers. They understand all the harmful substances discouraged from the production process.

Organic vs Natural


Natural foods are those foods processed under minimal conditions. They contain no antibiotics, hormones, or artificial flavors. 

The products labeled “natural” are regulated by neither USDA nor FDA. Thus, these foods usually have lots of heavy ingredients in them. 

They are also cost-effective as their production follows lesser rules. Therefore, as a producer, you will pass through few stages or pay nominal fees for the production of these products. This is contrary to the case of organic foods.

Everyone can indulge in natural production. Provided you can preserve general hygiene and in the end, provide healthy products to humans, you can operate this. You will label your products yourself as natural.


This is the most heavily ruled and regulated food production process. It is only organic, and it requires total conformity and following of the set regulations and rules. Toxic pesticides, chemicals, fertilizers, and toxic herbicides are seriously discouraged from the system. 

Growth hormones and antibiotics are also not allowed in the production process. Organic processors and producers undergo several random inspections. Third-party agencies such as FDA and USDA conduct these inspections that help ascertain that the processed products are healthy for human consumption.

These products are usually costly as producers have several conformities they must comply with. The producers also need to be technically competent to produce them. 

As a result, it locks out those who wish to venture into the system but have no standard qualifications. Certification usually comes through evaluation.

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Natural vs Organic Beef

natural vs organic beef

Natural Beef

Natural beef is grass-fed beef. The labels on these products are always born, pastured, and harvested in America (USA). This means these animals are born and raised in natural pasture. 

Their harvesting, too, takes place in the USA. The cattle are born within the farms in the family. They are cared for, nurtured, and butchered right in America. 

Some natural beef, however, comes from New Zealand, Uruguay, and Australia. American regulations allow meat products from these nations to be labeled as those of the USA. That is either “Made in the USA’ or Product of the USA,” depending on where they were processed. 

Natural beef’s cost appears to be more as compared to the other kinds. This is because they take time to raise as they depend on the natural grass.

Equally, ranchers process a significantly small number of these cattle at one ago. 

See Related: Are Humans Animals? 15 Things to Know

Organic Beef

Organic beef implies beef coming from cattle that have not been raised in feedlots for an extended period. You cannot place these types of cattle in crowded, unsanitary, or dirty conditions. They feed on grain or are confined in feedlots for only a limited period of their life.

Organic beef cannot indirectly or directly be exposed to synthetic contaminants, fertilizers, artificial pesticides, GMOs, hormones, and antibiotics.  However, the animals can be fed organic grain and corn but still be labeled organic meat even though these organic grains can be grown with pesticides.

Organic beef tends to be very costly because these cattle are grown using several supplements that are pretty expensive.

Natural vs Organic Meat

Natural Meat

The official Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a policy that regulates the labeling of products. The labeling for natural meat should be for that meat that has no added flavors, synthetic compounds, or colors. 

Consumers make their inferences on when to name a product as “natural.” This also results from USDA not participating in the natural labeling of products.

Natural food can be described as pure, non-GMO, and free from human-made chemicals. Some of them have contents of fructose, syrup, and corn.

Even though, USDA does not control the food labeled as natural, whether poultry, natural meat, or eggs, the food must be antibiotic and hormone-free.

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Organic Meat

These are meat types certified by FDA and USDA. They have the label “USDA Certified Organic.” There are a lot of concerns that you need to fulfill before you get approval to produce organic meat. 

First, the land has to be free from all unwanted compounds before their farms can be certified. This inspection occurs every three years. Farmers must also go through regular audits and reviews before they get the certifications. 

Thus, organic meat guarantees that the food is free from toxic chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, preservatives, artificial additives, and GMOs.  

Certified Naturally Grown vs. Organic

Certified Organic

These are the products certified by the USDA organic certification. A certified organic product cannot be grown with the help of any ingredient from the “National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. This body has been obliged the duty by Agricultural secretary.

The prohibited substances are pesticides and fertilizers, or generally synthetic substances, which can harm both the environment and humans. When used, these substances have to certify human responsibility. This is to monitor the extent of their influence on the environment and human health.

Getting and maintaining the certification is tiresome work since daily data collection and record-keeping must be done. Also, the certification cost is high. Though it differs depending on the certifying agent, it can be approximated to be $1,500 per farm.

Certified Naturally Grown

Certified naturally grown labels originated from a category of farmers who viewed certified organic as relatively expensive. They also thought that ‘certified organic’ is prohibiting several activities. Thus, they came up with a lesser strict organization –The certified Naturally Grown (CNG) certification organization. 

However, all the produce has to grow with no addition of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, and antibiotics. Genetically modified organisms must also be excluded. These farmers also pay an annual fee and submit to inspections annually.

In contrast to NOP, whose inspection is scheduled and inspected by USDA, CNG conducts self-inspection. However, they sometimes invite non –farmers, master gardeners, extension agents, and customers to inspect them.

All-natural Chicken vs. Organic Chicken

organic vs natural chicken

All-natural Chicken

All-natural chicken contains strictly no growth hormones, antibiotics, and additives. The chicken has been processed in minimal condition. This helps to maintain its natural taste and flavor. 

It’s relatively cheap. This is a result of little regularity in its line of production. 

All-natural chicken is not regulated by either USDA or FDA.  Some of this food has contents of corn, fructose, and syrup.

Even though all-natural chickens are not regulated, the product should be free from preservatives or any artificial color. The products are labeled “all-natural chicken,” by the manufacturers. 

Organic Chicken

Food labeled as all-organic chicken must have followed USDA and FDA production standards. This signifies that the chicken has been raised in an environment free from stimulants. Antibiotics and hormones are seriously discouraged too during rearing.

These chicken are also fed on organic all-grain meals. And, they must access other food from the surrounding, that is, outdoor foods.

Their cost is usually set high to cater to the high production cost. As with the organic system, high-quality standards are expected from those keeping all-organic chickens.

All-natural Eggs vs. Organic

All-natural Eggs

All-natural eggs are those eggs coming from an all-natural chicken. They are also known as antibiotics-free or vegetarian eggs. 

These eggs differ significantly from organic eggs. This is because no one is interested in monitoring them.

The manufacturers set their own rules, standards, and regulations to follow. Many precautions must be taken since you may end up buying what was not advertised. These are the cheapest eggs since their production involves little expenses. 

Organic Eggs

All-organic eggs are compared and defined in terms of weight per USDA standards. The classes of these weights include extra-large, jumbo, small, medium, pewee, and large. USDA also measures the quality and appearance of these eggs.

The quality is based on the York, eggshell, albumen, and egg white. There are preferred ratings of the eggs based on quality, that is, either A, B, or AA. 

These eggs are very expensive. They can cost even more than $5. This almost doubles that of an all-natural egg. The cost is high due to several expenses incurred during its production.

All-natural Baby Food vs. Organic

All-natural Baby Food

All-natural baby food consists of those baby foods that are minimally processed. Self-set regulations are followed during their production. They are also rich in minerals and vitamins but not as compared to organic ones. 

This category of food is also free from additives, flavors, and food colors. Foods not free from synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are excluded during processing. They are, therefore, safe for your baby’s consumption.

Since their manufacturing involves relatively little investment, this category of food is relatively cheap and anyone can easily afford it.

Its production also requires little standardization, provided the ingredients used are fit for human consumption.

Organic Baby Food

Organic baby food is considered to be a very healthy food rich in minerals and vitamins. Also, it features organic option nutrients whose cost is fractionally calculated.

These foods are free from pesticides, bacteria, additives, and modified ingredients. Since these sorts of foods are environmentally friendly, they are favored by sustainability-conscious people.

Their costs, however, are very high, as it’s set high to meet the demands of its production standards.