Consumer education is an essential component to building the categories that fall under the better-for-you umbrella. Clarifying the differences between all-natural, certified-organic and non-GMO is the first step.

All-natural: At this time, the Food and Drug Administration has not set a regulated or standard definition of “natural.”   (However, the US Department of Agriculture does define “natural” as it applies to meat.) Yet, according to Steve Sklar of Inventure Foods, this job has been done by Austin, TX-based Whole Foods Market, which unofficially set the industry standard by dictating what “natural” means for companies wishing to supply this supermarket chain.

Certified-organic: The organic food industry operates under regulations created by the US Department of Agriculture’s National Organics Program (NOP). These regulations strictly define the farming and production practices that allow a food to qualify for certified-organic labeling. Essentially, the regulations prohibit the use of pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and artificial growth hormones.

Non-GMO: Baked foods and snacks carrying the Non-GMO Project Verified seal were produced without the intentional use of GMO ingredients. Such labeling remains voluntary in the US.