To explain natural and organic food really needs two answers – they are two different things, though closely related.
Natural food means real food, as produced by nature.
Natural food is not an official term with a legal definition, but it’s usually used to mean real food without artificial additives of any sort, not treated in any unnatural way, e.g. not irradiated, as many supermarket foods are to destroy bacteria. It also means food as close as possible to it’s natural state – raw, or lightly cooked. For me it also means food that’s natural to eat – it’s natural for humans to eat fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, perhaps meat or fish, wholegrain cereals. Most of the stuff that fills the shelves of supermarkets is very far from natural. Refined white sugar, additives made from petro-chemicals…how can anyone eat it?
Organic food means food grown to strict organic standards.
Organic standards vary from country to country, but in general organic means it’s grown without artificial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides (agrochemicals). Animals reared organically are fed on organically grown feed, their pastures are not sprayed with agrochemicals, and they are not fed hormones or routinely given antibiotics. Genetically modified organisms (g.m.o.s) have no place in organic food production.
Organic food is regulated by various associations and by government regulations. Food labelled as organic should have a symbol showing which organisation has certified it as organic.
A term often used for non-organic, chemical farming is intensive farming. This is because animals are kept in intensive, crowded conditions and crops are grown to get the maximum yield.
Hens are kept in batteries, 3 or 4 or more to a tiny cage, calves in veal crates so small they can’t move, cows in barns, etc.
Crops are sprayed with pesticides and herbicides to kill everything except the one type of plant. This is fed on artificial fertilizers containing only four minerals.
Intensively produced food is the opposite of natural and organic food.
In organic farming animals are allowed to live in conditions as natural as possible. Hens are free range, cows graze in pastures, etc. Crops are grown in such a way that soil fertility is improved. The farmers are thinking not only of this year’s crop, but next year and the year after, and a generation after.
Choosing natural and organic food is the first step towards better health. One of the benefits of organic food is that it’s higher in nutrients than the chemically grown equivalent, without artificial additives damage you health in all sorts of ways (see my page on Tartrazine ).
Natural and organic food will build up good health, and help your body clear out toxins built up over the years.