A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit the Safeway HQ to learn more about Open Nature, a Safeway private label that offers high quality, minimally processed products.
We all know the “natural” label is ambiguous, overused and even abused, but Safeway strives to be transparent, specifying four criteria: Raised without antibiotics, No added hormones, fed an all-vegetarian diet and No artificial preservatives. (source) Which I appreciate since the food industry can be so confusing.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get from my clients is: “Natural vs Organic, is there a difference and which one is better?”
Answer: Natural and organic both imply that food is healthier and more wholesome than conventional foods, but the terms are not interchangeable. When possible I always suggest to choose organic foods, but natural can be a good option as well. Especially If they are providing transparency on ingredients and where the food is sourced from.
During the Safeway blogger tour, one of the chefs who does all the food testing walked us through all the different food offerings provided by Open Nature. The meat and seafood by Open Nature are all natural, fed with all vegetarian diet (no grain finish), no artificial preservatives and seafood was all sustainable and responsibly farm raised. This is a big thing for our family because we’re a lot more conscious about the source of our meat and seafood and how it was treated prior to us eating it.
We toured the rest of the facility and learned about how they product test and how Open Nature reverse engineers other well-known products to try to recreate the product and make it better. Coming from my tech background I thought that was fascinating. So when you’re shopping at Safeway and happen to pick up an Open Nature toilet paper or one of the other 100 different products know that it’s an economic alternative to one of the more popular brand name items you might normally buy.
Do I buy organic food all the time?
When possible, yes. We always shop for organic grass-fed meat, sustainable seafood, and organic produce (especially if it’s on the Dirty Dozen list). If it’s on the Clean 15 list, then we’ll save an extra dollar or two and purchase conventional because the amount of pesticides on the produce is so low that it doesn’t do any harm to the body. If organic options aren’t available I’ll go for all natural, but only if it has simple real food ingredients.
Although we got to taste the different Open Nature foods during the blogger tour, the real taste test is when you bring it home to the fam. I picked up a package of Open Nature grass fed burger patties and buns. We wanted to taste test them for flavor before our camping trip. I was pleasantly surprised with the ingredients in the buns. Every ingredient listed was something my 8-year-old could read, which for me is the key to simple wholesome food.
What I loved about the patties was the flavor. I usually make my own grass-fed burger patties fresh when I have time, but sometimes getting something easy, pre-made, and SIMPLE store bought does the trick too.
Organic vs Natural, what should you choose?
My biggest advice about healthy food choices is: educate yourself on the type of foods you're eating and where it comes from. For some people, organic food choices may not be an option due to where they live and location. A few other things to keep in mind is that some small farms and food purveyors may not be organically certified due to the high cost to maintain the certification, but raise and cultivate their food in the most sustainably responsible way. Other countries outside the US may not label their food organic or natural, but have much higher standards than the US of what is considered natural.
Always do your research and choose what's right for you.
This post was sponsored by Safeway, but all the thoughts are 100% my own.