Know the differences between natural and organic.

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Consumers often use the terms natural and organic interchangeably without realizing that there are significant differences between the two terms. Due to an increased awareness of the negative effects of fertilizers and preservatives, a greater number of consumers now strive to select products without this type harmful agents. However, even health conscientious consumers find it confusing when having to choose between a natural and an organic product. They incorrectly think that both terms are equal. Unfortunately, they are not. When it comes to natural vs. organic, it is important to understand what each term involves before choosing a product.

1. About Organic Products: Choose organic if you want a product that does not contain hormones, fertilizers or other hazardous chemicals. Selecting organic products will help you avoid chemicals as much as possible. 

It is important to realize that each state sets its own standards for organic producers. Organic products must meet State manufacturing requirements. Packaged foods labeled as organic means that the ingredients were cultivated without the use of fertilizers, pesticides or hormones. It also means that the product is free of artificial coloring, preservatives and flavors.    

Although organic fruits and vegetables can be pricey, you can save money by purchasing what’s in season. Locally grown produce are another way to save when shopping organic.   

2. About Natural Products: While processing a product without chemicals qualifies it as “natural,” the term applies only to the processing and packaging stage. Fruits and vegetables could contain chemical residue from the cultivating process.  If the product contains meat, it's possible that hormones or antibiotics were involved. Other enticers to look out for are "All-natural" and "100% natural." 

3. Natural vs. Organic & Non-Food Items: Be careful when buying products such as air fresheners, household cleaning supplies, shampoo, soap, and body fragrances. Such products often include the word natural simply because it may have a natural scent like lemon. Although lemon is a natural product, manufacturers often use chemicals to achieve the scent. In contrast, in organic products, the scent is the result of plant or fruit extracts used in the manufacturing process.  

Buy 100 percent essential oils instead of scented oils. The first is organic and contains botanical extracts. In contract, scented oils are generally oils with a synthetic scent. The same principle applies to candles. Opt for candles that specifically state 100 percent essential oils or organic on the label.

Overall, if you are concerned about the negative effects of chemicals and other hazardous agents in your life, it’s important to purchase products that specifically list organic ingredients on the label.  

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