The terms natural and organic are becoming more and more commonly used in everyday life. There is a difference in meaning between the two but it is very rarely known. So what’s the difference?
The dictionary definition of natural is “existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by mankind.” From this you’d assume anything created or made by hand or grown in the earth would be natural.
The term natural is so commonly used – natural food, natural beauty, natural skincare – that defining it has a become a problem and one of the reasons why it’s often confused with the term organic.
With healthy living and lifestyle becoming such a big part of society, natural food seems to be becoming more and more popular.
But it seems it’s not so easy to tell which foods are actually ‘natural’. There is no body or association, which lays down the criteria a product, has to meet, in order to be classified as natural. Therefore in affect, anything could be labeled as natural.
The exception to this is poultry and meat, these foods must be free from artificial flavours, colours, preservatives and sweeteners, and processing must be kept to a minimum, for them to be labeled as natural foods.
Using your own judgment, to pick out the more natural foods in comparison to others, is recommended. The foods, which contain less preservatives, added colours, fatty substances, and artificial flavours, are likely to be the more natural and healthy options.
There are benefits to eating more natural foods; for example, they are likely to be less processed. Therefore contain less sugar, salt and starches, although without a proper certification this still cannot be fully guaranteed.
However, consuming healthier foods can benefit your wellbeing and overall health in the long run.
Beauty and skincare is another area where the term natural appears to be growing popular. Similarly to food, the definition of natural beauty and skincare products is a little blurred.
Going back to the dictionary definition, it suggests anything, which is “derived from nature or not manmade”, is classed as natural. Therefore, any cosmetics with plant, flower or oil-derived ingredients could be called natural.
However, initiative is beneficial when judging whether a cosmetics item is fully natural. Products may claim they are natural but in fact have ingredients, which could affect your skin.
Using natural beauty and skincare can have positive benefits on your skin. It can keep your skin looking healthy and supple as well as calm skin problems such as acne and breakouts.
The definition of the term natural is a little cloudy however; using initiative when it comes to natural foods, beauty and skincare is a good idea.
The term organic can be used for various things – organic food, organic beauty and organic living.
The dictionary defines it as “relating to or derived from living matter” and “(of food and farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals.”
The definition of organic seems be clearer than the one for natural and this becomes even clearer when food and cosmetics are categorised as ‘organic’.
For food to be called organic, it must be organically farmed and meet certain specifications set by organic certification bodies.
Organic Farming means that farmers have to stick to the following principles:
- Avoid using pesticides and artificial fertilizers – These can harm water drunk by livestock and pollute the environment.
- Keep waste output to a minimum – Recycling is important for organic farming.
- Control weeds and pesticides by using methods, which won’t harm crops, the environment or other livestock.
- Maintain the fertility level of soil – Farmers must ensure soil can be used to reproduce crops. So certain bacteria like earthworms and fungi are encouraged to grow in organic farming.
- GM’s are not allowed – Traditional rotating of crops must be used, along with scientific organic breeding techniques for livestock to reproduce is important.
- Look out for the welfare of their livestock – Criteria for the living conditions of the animals is a key point in organic farming. Farmers ensure the animals have enough water, food, and outside space to move and graze around on. They must also be careful about veterinary medicines and seek advice if livestock do fall ill.
The purpose of organic farming is to maintain a healthy environment for the livestock so they don’t become easily distressed. It also benefits the environment and other insects, as less harmful substances are involved the farming process.
The demand for organic farming is growing. However, because of costs involved, the availability of organic produce is slowly increasing.
The organic beauty market is vastly expanding with so many companies turning towards creating organic skincare and beauty.
There are many organic certification bodies, which cosmetic brands can join, in order to be considered as organic. However, similar to food, these certification bodies require for certain criteria to be met, before any product can be labeled ‘organic’.
One of the well-known certification bodies is the Soil Association – a body that certifies food, health and beauty products to be organic. This means the ingredients used have been organically produced and are certified organic.
Many certification bodies will also discourage companies from using harmful alcoholic substances within their products. These harmful alcohols can dry out the skin and cause more problems for anyone who suffers from dry skin conditions.
Although it cannot be fully claimed that organic beauty and skincare is better for your skin, they certainly contain beneficial ingredients and properties that will enhance your skin. Some of these substances act as emollients and moisturisers, which keep your skin feeling soft, soothed and toned.
Organic cosmetics may also be free from parabens, SLS/SLES and animal-derived products, and can therefore be used by those who suffer from related allergies. Many organic beauty and skincare products aim to be better for your skin by using ingredients with beneficial properties. They try to be gentler on your skin, therefore providing you with a product, which can potentially make a difference over time.
Natural and organic are two words, which are being used more often than before. However, there is a difference between the two; organic seems to be the one that is more defined, especially within the food and beauty industries.