What is the difference between Artificial Vanilla Extract and Pure Natural Vanilla?

Pure Vanilla Extract is a flavouring derived from an orchid in the genus Vanilla native to Mexico, the only edible fruit of the orchid family, which is the largest family of flowering plants in the world. Vanilla Extract is produced by drying and curing the green bean pods from the Vanilla plants. The majority of the world's vanilla today is produced in Madagascar, while other tropical countries including Indonesia, India, Mexico, and many others produce smaller quantities. Because vanilla is a vine and requires a support to grow on (such as trees) and at least 50% shade, it's production is generally sustainable and helps preserve tropical forests and biodiversity.

Synthetic vanilla, on the other hand, is an artificial product made from guaiacol, a coal tar derivative through a chemical process. Caramel colors are used to mask the unpleasant aroma and therefore it appears black in color. Since it is a coal tar derivative, it is generally considered unhealthy for human consumption.

Over 250 components contribute to the flavor profile of vanilla, yet only vanillin is imitated. Natural vanillin is present in vanilla beans at 2% by weight. A cheaper artificial form (USP vanillin) can be synthesized from guaiacol, a coal tar derivative; or produced from lignin, a byproduct of the paper industry.