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Organic or Natural? Is It Worth It?

written by

Sarah Fischer

posted on

March 11, 2017

Have you ever gone to the grocery store and felt overwhelmed by the terms “organic”, “free range”, “natural”, “pastured”, “cage free”, “grass fed” or how about the classic “all natural”?

You’re just looking for food for your family that is safe to eat.  You want to buy meat from animals that lived a good life and were treated humanely.  You want your food to be free of harmful chemicals and additives that will make you sick.  

That’s why you choose to buy the food labeled “organic” or “free range”, right?  But, how’s a mom to decide which one is best?  All these terms...what do they really mean?  Let’s explore a bit, shall we?

First up, the golden child…..Organic.

There are tons of regulations to become an organic farmer, but basically they are not allowed to use hormones, antibiotics or synthetic fertilizers.  While I definitely agree with these practices, it isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.  

The organic label simply means the animal was fed organic feed.  They’ll try to fool you with a picture of an chicken roaming around on grass or something along those lines.  Don’t be fooled, it was still raised “factory farm style” but just fed organic feed.

Cage Free

I consider myself fairly educated on “real food” and I’ll admit, this one got me.

For a long time I was making my own mayo because I couldn’t find one that wasn’t loaded with toxic soybean or canola oil.  Then I found one and the ingredients were: avocado oil, organic cage-free eggs, organic egg yolks, organic vinegar, sea salt, organic rosemary extract.  I thought I won the lottery.  One less thing I have to make in the kitchen and it tastes like the real deal.  But then I came across this picture.


My heart sank. I immediately knew those “organic cage free eggs” were no better than any other egg.  

Free Range

The only requirement here is that the chicken has access to the outdoors which usually is a small patch of dirt or a concrete slab.  Sadly, if the door is open for an hour or less per day, they can be labeled as free range.


A very trendy term these days.  Once again, grass fed only means they have access to some grass.  There is a big difference in short stubble grass in a mostly dirt patch versus grass up to a cow’s belly that is bursting with nutrients like found on our farm, yet they both can be labeled as such.

Natural and Pastured

These are probably the worst terms of them all.  There are absolutely no regulations on the words natural or pastured.  It’s fair game for anything!


Sounds great, doesn’t it?  One minor detail...chickens aren’t vegetarians, they are omnivores. They LOVE bugs, worms, even an occasional mouse if they can catch it.  If you buy a “vegetarian” chicken or eggs you can be reassured that chicken never stepped foot on fresh grass or had access to sunshine because they could have accidentally eaten a bug.  Gasp!

You see where I’m going with this.  While I am happy to see there are many consumers who are being conscious of what they are eating, companies know if they can make their product look good and make you believe you are buying a top notch product, you'll buy it.  Chances are you aren’t getting the product you think you are and you're spending a pretty penny on it.

Transparency and accountability is key

The only true way to understand how your food is being raised is to come and see for yourself.

At Nature’s Pantry we have an open door policy - you're welcome to drop it at any time.  However, if you'd like to full guided farm tour be sure to sign up for one of our tours this summer!

Bring your kids.  They LOVE seeing the animals.  Pick a dozen eggs and then make them for breakfast.  I tell kids if they can catch a chicken they can take it home with them....

Your kids will never forget their trip to the farm and you’ll help build a strong foundation for a love of real food.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ad from Tyson Chicken inviting you for a farm tour...I’m just sayin’.  

Please forward this to someone you know who could use a little help on reading labels!

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