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What does 100% Natural, Organic, or Green on an item label signify?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology
Every other item on the retail shelves seems to have "100% Natural," "Organic," or "Green" on the label. A recent survey by Bearing Point, a management and technology consulting firm, found that 71 percent of U.S. companies market the "environmental friendliness" of their products to customers. But another poll (by Ipsos) found that 70 percent of Americans felt that when a company labels a product as "green," it's usually just a marketing tactic. The bottom line: we need to be smart about picking the real thing. Just because something says it's natural or organic, it is not a guarantee of authenticity.

In a survey conducted by Health Magazine, 83 percent of consumers polled indicated that they prefer to buy all-natural body products, although more than half of them could not define "natural" or "organic." First of all, natural and organic are not synonymous. Often "100% Natural" or "All Natural" is 100 percent bogus. The FDA does not regulate the use of "natural," "botanical," "pure," or "organic," so any company can slap them on any product. This practice is known as greenwashing, or brainwashing consumers into believing products are natural when they actually are not. "Organic" refers to the agricultural method in which the ingredients are farmed without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and utilizing renewable resources to save energy. A product vetted by the USDA as "certified organic" must contain 95 percent organically grown ingredients.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.