Here are four minutes of reading to set your compass straight-
1. Natural and Organic are very different.
For all that we blame our government, they are clear as water on what is Organic and Natural. As per FTC, Natural is just what a 2nd grader would think it is– there are no ingredients or chemicals that are not from nature including synthetic variants. Organic on the other hand is slightly different, it indicates sustainability, genetic modification and chemicals. USDA continues to evolve this and has summarized this well over here. The key difference is that that there are a limited number of chemical/ non-organic products that are allowed to be used in organic products, its stricter in food and livestock.
2. Which food products should you buy organic and natural ?
Vegetable/fruit (produce) is of course the first key one, the most authoritative source on this comes from the yearly list published by EWG. The next one is livestock or animal products; this one is of course farm raised with antibioitics/non-natural feeds vs naturally raised that are free roaming and/or fed what they have historically eaten. There is also a narrow distinction even in the ones that are natural, organic or wild caught like highlighted by this report from Greenpeace.
3. Which non-food products should you buy organic and natural?
This is where it becomes tricky, as these are not consumed directly. We break this down by absorption potential, toxic impact and time of interaction. The first one is your mattress, typically you spend 30% of your time and are inhaling/touching it. It has been found across studies but the most scientific one that NSF, University of Texas and Nordic Research found that even crib mattress emanates dangerous chemicals. One would have expected to be the safest product had same chemicals found in industrial cleaners. Natural mattress are made from cotton, non-synthetic latex or animal hair like wool. The next items that comes close is clothing. In an extensive study championed by Stockholm university, substances in health risks were found in clothes. There are other products that follow after this including detergents, house sprays, perfumes, surfactants (soaps and shampoos). These are important but fade in terms of strength of damage and absorption.
4. Your habits are more important than all of the above
Your move from being a consumer of information to an advocate of a lifestyle is crucial. It is all about consistency. Where it goes into imbalance is if your actions dont match, eg., you buy organic milk but eat cattle (products) raised on non-natural diet. You love products that have coconut oil but filled with many more toxic ingredients, you are better off with just pure coconut oil. A recent fad is consumers spend on mattresses that provide free returns or promise of ideal firm/soft without seeing if its foam or synthetic latex, even worse the latex is organic but the outer cover is chemically laced. There are many tools to check where you are on your habits- like this one on sustainability.You can also check out the easy infographic, if you are visual. So what is my organic list?
- EWGs list on vegetables, fruit irrespective of cost
- Most affordable wild-caught seafood and Halal meat (even if inorganic)
- Mattress from natural cotton or wool, never foam or synthetic latex.
What are your 3 product/categories that always do Organic or Natural?