Not long ago, organic would have been defined as those things derived from plant or living materials. Today there are strict standards in many countries about what foods can be labeled organic. The terms organic and natural can be confusing ones because they may imply things that are made from nature, but aren't necessarily the same.
Foods can be labeled organic and natural, which means they tend to lack chemically produced substances, but when a food is called organic, this takes the matter one step further. It means that the producer of the food has created the food under strict and regulated circumstances. Government organizations like the US Department of Agriculture create standards, which foods must meet in order to be considered organic and carry an organic label. These foods tend to be free of hormones, are only treated with pesticides considered “organic,” and the food is produced in a region where organic food production is possible. It can take several years for a farm to convert to the standards required to consistently get that organic label.
Sometimes the line between organic and natural is confused because it would make sense to think of foods that are minimally processed as containing no pesticides. One of the main differences between organic and natural is the way the government defines these terms. When you buy organic foods they must meet certain defined standards.
At present most governments do not have an official definition of natural. They may go so far as to describe natural as not chemically produced, but there is little to no certification for “natural foods” or things called “all-natural.” When a food is natural, that really doesn’t tell you much about it, nor does the description guarantee a certain purity or safety of the product. A natural food, unless otherwise labeled, is not an organic food.
It’s important to understand the main differences between organic and natural then as regulatory and referring to foods that may have minimal processing. Some natural foods can be defined as foods left in close to original form. This is not always the case, as for instance with terms like natural flavoring. Natural flavors can be made in laboratories and contain things we wouldn’t ordinarily think of as food sources like certain oils or meat byproducts. These flavors do have to be made of foods, but they are foods that have no nutritive value in a product, and may or may not have been produced organically.