10 Scientific Words You're Probably Using Wrong

The FDA has no definition for what makes a product 'natural.' However, organic products must meet requirements set out by the USDA. Creative/Cardinal/Corbis

Our supermarket aisles are lined with foods, health and beauty products and cleaning solutions touting their all-natural and organic ingredient lists. But what do these terms really mean? Poison ivy is "natural," but you sure wouldn't want it in your salad — or your hand lotion, for that matter.

In the United States, the word "natural" as it pertains to food labels has no regulated definition. According the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), "It is difficult to define a food product that is 'natural' because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances." So that "natural" peanut butter you buy may be no better nutritionally than its "regular" counterpart.

The term organic is a bit better defined, as the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) organic label means that a food has met a set of standards and requirements established by the USDA, including being grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizer [source: Organic.org]. Of course, chemically speaking, all food is organic, since "organic" means carbon-based.

The next commonly misused word on our list takes us from natural and organic to nature vs. nurture.