Understand Organic Food Meaning Before You Buy


We often see the word organic when grocery shopping. But what is the meaning of organic? How come so many food items are labeled organic? Is there a difference between organic food and natural food? You must be wondering about the meaning of organic food. If you should buy organic foods or not. There are just so many questions about organic and the meaning of organic, that it can be quite a complex topic. Don’t worry, this article is here to help you understand the meaning of organic and more!

The Meaning of Organic Food

Now that I got you thinking about what is the meaning of organic? Let me take you through a journey where we understand the meaning of organic and use it to our advantage.
First, let’s take a look at the dictionary definition of organic:


  1. (of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals

However, oftentimes when people see the word organic on food labels, they assume it is “natural”. However, it is important to know that “natural” and organic do not mean the same. In fact, the natural you have in mind and the natural in an agricultural way is somewhat different. Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of organic food and the relationship with the word “natural”.

Organic Food Meaning Vs Natural Food

Please notice that the word natural above is in quotation marks. There is a common conception that organic automatically means it is natural, which many people assume the product is better because it is “natural”, however that is not the case. The natural that is used is often referred to as products and ingredients used are not made synthetically or do not include synthetic man-made chemicals or additives. However, there are chances that other ingredients are added to help the crop grow. The natural here does not mean the crop will grow like they are in the wild. The ingredients of the pesticides and fertilizers used to grow these crops might be ingredients that you can find in nature. However, to say that because the food is organic, then it is natural and thus, it is better is not necessarily true. Natural is often a marketing term and quite ambiguous in many cases. To understand the meaning of organic food, please continue reading.

Organic Food Meaning

Organic food meaning is all about how it was produced
As you can see from the top dictionary definition, the meaning of organic food is somewhat different and quite specific from what the mass majority assume the organic meaning is. There is still can be a lot of confusion about the meaning of organic, especially for food. It is normal for people to want the best option for their food. So often times when people see the word organic, they assume it is the natural way of growing, thus, equating the food is better. However, organic food just means they don’t use synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, or hormones. Also, the food is not genetically modified. So unlike wild fruits and vegetables, organic vegetables still use pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer. Therefore, technically these organic vegetables are not natural, as they still use additional additives to grow in comparison to wild fruits and vegetables. As for organic food products just like meat, that means animals were not injected with growth hormones, antibiotics, and vaccines. In addition, many of the animals are raised free-range instead of cramped in a small farmhouse. This might be seen as much more natural, which is true, however, as mentioned, the meaning of natural is quite ambiguous and can be easily confused. In addition, the idea of natural products are better, there is the concept of organic food is healthier, which can be subjective.

Organic Food Meaning Healthy?

Now you must be thinking, what about the idea of organic is healthier? While there are still a lot of arguments about whether organic meaning healthier food. Organic food does mean there are fewer synthetic ingredients or additives in the food, such as growth hormones, antibiotics, vaccines in meat, where the animal itself is much healthier and stronger compared to non-organic raised animals who are kept in cages with minimal movability. As for fruits and vegetables, organic means that there are no harsh chemicals used to get rid of pests or help them grow. The farmer just chooses to use the more traditional way of keeping pests away or fertilizers. In addition, while some products require a lot of pesticides, there are some crops that don’t require a lot of or strong pesticides to grow, so it might better to get regular non-organic options.

Marketing Organic Food

Before many companies would market their product organic along with the words like all-natural. This is why many people associate organic food as the natural way of food being produced. However, the definition of natural in an agricultural mindset is different from the mass majority. So it is important to understand the meaning of organic food. Which now you understand and can easily differentiate the two words. If you value the idea of using non-synthetic herbicides and pesticides, then I highly recommend you understand the organic labels.

Buying Organic Food

A woman buying organic food
Next time you go out grocery shopping, you will understand the difference between organic food and non-organic food, since now you understand the organic food meaning. In addition, you are one step ahead of many other consumers where you understand the difference between organic and natural.
If you are still interested in learning more about organic meaning, you are welcome to check out this article that will take you on a deeper understanding of organic meaning.
Or you want to know more about organic food, don’t worry, I got you covered!

Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!