Outside of sales at the farm gate and farmers markets, the produce grower has little to no control over how their produce is marketed to the consumer. The grower trusts the food industry to correctly identify the provenance of their product from distributor to consumer. Yet there remains confusion over the term “natural” as it pertains to the purity of edible produce. Suffice it to say the term “natural” can describe both conventional and certified-organic produce. The term “natural” implies a product untainted and thus more closely related to certified-organic although nothing could be further from the truth. Even the term “organic” without the modifier “certified” will sometimes be used to describe conventionally grown produce further deepening the confusion. Conventionally grown is a term referring to a method of growing edible produce. It is opposite to certified-organic which grows edible produce without synthetic chemicals or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Conventionally grown produce will often use fertilizers, pesticides and GMOs, which allow for higher yield, out of season growth, and at times an abnormally larger product.
There really is only one way to differentiate between conventional and certified-organic produce. Certified-organic will always be identified with a certified-organic label similar to:
that indicates the name of the authorized certifier that inspected the product and the growers certification number. In addition certified-organic labels may carry the certifying bodies logo. At farmersdotter organics we will maintain PACS certification (#16-464) under COABC.
On the whole the food industry in North America has failed to educate consumers over the differences between natural and certified-organic terminology perpetuating a fraud to the consumer. The remedy lies in truth-in-labeling laws. For example in the European Union there is no confusion between GMOs and certified-organics because under EU law all foods containing GMOs or GMO ingredients must be labeled. The EU consumer can confidently choose between GMOs and certified-organic. When given the choice most consumers view GMOs as suspicious, tainted and undesirable.
The biotech industry in North America is acutely aware of suspicion toward GMOs and the consequent demands to place mandatory labels on GMO foods. Yet companies like Monsanto, Dow, and Dupont continue to lobby federal governments against accurate labeling so consumers can not consciously avoid purchasing their GMO products. In lieu of effective government legislation on food labeling, consumers must focus on buying local. The result will pressure the food industry to voluntarily label their food products. Consumer groups in the meantime must continue to out lobby Big Agra to enact mandatory and accurate labeling laws. Until then we are all perpetrating the natural fraud.