Written by Ian Carey
In case you didn’t know, September is National Organic Month! One of our proudest claims is that almost all our products are USDA-certified organic. To achieve this, we undergo rigorous evaluation once a year to ensure that we are being held to the USDA standards. Not many are intimately familiar with this process, but seeing as we have been through this process every year for the last 12 years, we believe we can offer some enlightenment on the subject.
I myself have heard much skepticism regarding the USDA Organic logo. There are those who believe it is an empty symbol, meant to fool unknowing customers into spending more on a product with no actual benefit. However, all companies who choose to become USDA certified must adhere to strict standards and guidelines on every level you could imagine. Each vendor we source organic ingredients from is deeply investigated, our handling facilities and processes are observed closely, and manufacturing information is constantly shared with the USDA. You can already begin to see how intensive this certification is, but it gets even better.
Per the USDA organic certification website, the following standards must be followed for any vendor wishing to sell organic ingredients/crops:
- Land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least 3 years before the harvest of an organic crop.
- Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops, supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials.
- Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used.
- Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available.
- The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge is prohibited.
These are regulations that each of our vendors must follow for their ingredients to be sold as organic. In turn, we must also undergo our own handling inspections, to ensure that we are meticulously storing and using our certified organic ingredients. Per the USDA Organic certification website, the handling standards are as follows:
- All non-agricultural ingredients, whether synthetic or non-synthetic, must be allowed according to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.
- In a multi-ingredient product labeled as “organic,” all agricultural ingredients must be organically produced, unless the ingredient(s) is not commercially available in organic form and listed on Section 205.606.
- Handlers must prevent the commingling of organic with non-organic products and protect organic products from contact with prohibited substances.
To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show that they aren't using GMOs and that they are using prevention practices to protect their products from contact with prohibited substances from farm to table. Our ingredients are sourced from regulated producers and manufacturers who use natural fertilizers and control pests and weeds using natural methods. In addition to the safety standards maintained by our vendors, there are a multitude of health benefits to choosing organic over non-organic.
In an article written by Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., many benefits of consuming organic are listed. “How your food is grown or raised can have a major impact on your mental and emotional health as well as the environment. Organic foods often have more beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants, than their conventionally grown counterparts. People with allergies to foods, chemicals, or preservatives may find their symptoms lessen or go away when they eat only organic foods.”
Everyone should feel safe and devoid of doubt when they purchase a product. In a perfect world, there would be total transparency between a business and its customers. Shortcuts can’t and shouldn’t be taken when attempting to create high-quality products. We hope that with our inclusion in the USDA-Organic Certification program, our customers can feel more confident in the quality and care put into every single batch we make.
“About the Organic Standards” United States Department of Agriculture.
https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards/organic-standards“Organic Foods: What You Need to Know” Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. March 1, 2023