All Natural? Organic? Fair Trade? A Primer on Eco-Sounding Words and Terms

by | Energy Topics

“Organic,” “fair trade,” and “all-natural,” are just a few of the latest buzz words swarming around everything you’re eating, drinking, wearing and breathing. But what do these terms really mean? With “all-natural” cigarettes and “organic” cheeseburgers on the market, does that mean you can smoke and eat fatty foods without any adverse health effects? Of course not!  There are many products labeled with words that sound good for you, but the products themselves sometimes aren’t (good for you, that is!).  Read on, below, for our primer on the most popular eco-sounding terms you’ll find on store shelves and how these words might be misleading.


Technically, organic means “of, or relating to, or arising in a bodily organ” or “affecting the structure of the organism.” When you see this term on the labels of everything from your coffee creamer to your bed sheets, it means that product was made without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge (ewwww), or genetically modified organisms. When your food is organic, the ingredients used in production are not exposed to antibiotics or growth hormones.

Fair Trade:

A quick search of this term gaining popularity reveals that “fair trade” is more a “movement” than an adjective. If a product has the term “fair trade” attached to it, it generally implies that the product was produced in an ethical manner (i.e., it was produced and then traded, fairly).  Several organizations are staking their claim as being the expert who decides whether or not a product is “fair trade.” The collective goal of these organizations is to ensure that the farmers and artisans in developing countries who produce handicrafts and agricultural goods are compensated fairly, while they also promote sustainable practices.

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All Natural:

You just brought home a trunk full of groceries that all boast “100% All-Natural” ingredients on the packaging. You feel proud that you’re feeding your family healthy, good-for-them foods. You feel smart for choosing nutritious items that will nourish your mind and body. You also have been deceived because “natural” foods can still contain ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, colors, additives and preservatives. What’s the best way to assure your foods don’t contain anything made in a lab? Look at the list of ingredients. If you can easily pronounce them, you’re on your way to a cleaner diet. Here are a few more ways to keep the fake out of your food

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