Nature's Banging at my Door
Nature politely knocked on my door for years. This time I’m paying attention
Natural and organic seem to be the current “buzzwords”. Research studies are being published weekly on the good and bad of the same product, people have opinions that are being passionately expressed on the pros and cons of any one source of food or ingredient, and promotional materials use the words “free of” in capital letters.
Through some personal research I’ve come to understand that all organic products are not necessarily natural. Simply put, an organic product is manufactured, synthesized and produced under regulated and standardized conditions that do not allow or limit the use of chemicals and preservatives. Natural products are not processed, not as regulated in production and tend to have a direct link to the source, be it a plant or animal.
There is no significant research that suggests one is better for a person’s health than the other. And, that leaves us with other considerations before making that decision for any one product, be it organic or natural:
Time - Organic products, being more processed, have more shelf life than natural products, which have more water content. So the choice to be made really depends on how much time you’d like to keep your product around and how long the product will remain usable. For example, if in buying vegetables, fruits and meats, it is possible to choose products that are from natural sources, referring to farming that doesn’t use any pesticides, chemical fertilizers or doesn’t feed any to their animals. An example is cage-free labeling versus pasture-raised/free range labeling identifying organic and natural respectively in relation to chickens and eggs. Canned food, needing to be stored for longer periods, should preferably be organic rather than natural, since they may require a longer shelf life.
Use - Oils that can be used as beauty products, such as rosehip, amaranth seed, or argan, have a longer shelf life, even in their natural state. However, the market also has on offer, organic creams made from the same oils yet with controlled chemicals to bring them to the physical emulsified state they are sold in. The choice here is again individual, in that, the use of the cream and the person’s need for it is the deciding factor. A person with oily skin may not want to use more oil on their face, and prefer going organic with the lighter creams.
Cost - Organic products tend to be higher priced than any non-organic items, and natural products are priced higher than processed items. Organic manufacturers have listed a number of reasons for this, mainly to do with the cost of manufacturing and production, and cost to maintain the required stringent environments for certification. Natural products tend to cost less, having a more grassroots type of production.
Availability - Most naturally grown products will be seasonal and not as easily available in common markets, whereas we have seen an increase in the number of organically certified items in the isles. It is at times, an effort to source natural products, and can become a choice that is made for you rather than a choice given. People, who have the resources, have found ways to manage this by growing their own herbs, vegetables, and fruits, using fertilizing methods that are homegrown. Farmers’ markets are common venues to find naturally grown products that don’t necessarily cost as much as their organic brothers and sisters. But to find one that is nearby can be difficult.
And so, in conclusion, there is no hard and fast rule for choosing between organic and natural. The choices along the way will depend on time, use, cost and availability. It is more realistic to assess the product’s value to you within each of these areas and make the decision than to hold a strong general inclination towards natural or organic living. The end-goal is well-being.