The Problem With Organic…

I mentioned in one of my recent posts that the phrase “All-Natural” is grossly overrated. Corn Syrup, Potato Chips, and Ice-Cream are a few of the “All-Natural” products you’ll find in your local grocery store, not to mention dozens of cosmetic products that are loaded with toxic chemicals.

all-natural-raspberry

I also quoted a popular, and very well known essential oil company on FB, that said “The FDA views essential oils in a general way, believing that all essential oils are pretty much the same. They require that Essential Oils contain 5% pure ingredients in order to earn the label: “100% Therapeutic Grade.”

What are we supposed to do?

How are you and I supposed to know if a Pure or All-Natural or Organic product is all that we imagine, hope, and believe it to be when we hear those terms, and read them on packages in the health store?

How are we supposed to KNOW if something is “good”, and what information do we need to know or find out?

rules-for-all

In this post I will be focusing on Organic vs. Non-Organic. But I would like to follow up with other posts on related terms that we often see on labels. Terms that most of us probably have heard, are familiar with, or at least have formed some assumptions about.

“What is your opinion on all-natural ingredients versus organic ingredients?”

The young lady who asked this question was probably wondering whether or not a label needs to say Organic in order to qualify as a Pure, Good product. Yes, we all know that Organic is a wonderful thing, even preferred. But can you get a Pure, Natural (and whatever-else-you-want-to-call-it that’s good) product, that isn’t necessarily labeled Organic?

Let’s start by looking at some definitions of Organic, and most specifically, the USDA and FDA regulations for labeling a product Organic.

What Does Organic Mean by Definition?

100-Percent-Organic-Label

“Organic farmers, ranchers, and food processors follow a defined set of standards to produce Organic food and fiber…these standards cover the product from farm to table, including soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices, and rules for food additives. Organic farms and processors:

  • Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
  • Support animal health and welfare
  • Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors
  • Only use approved materials
  • Do not use genetically modified ingredients
  • Receive annual onsite inspections
  • Separate organic food from non-organic food

Read more here.

– Organic crops. “The USDA organic seal verifies that irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms were not used.”
– Organic livestock. “The USDA organic seal verifies that producers met animal health and welfare standards, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, used 100% Organic feed, and provided animals with access to the outdoors.”
– Organic multi-ingredient foods. “The USDA Organic seal verifies that the product has 95% or more certified Organic content. If the label claims that it was made with specified Organic ingredients, you can be sure that those specific ingredients are certified organic.”
– Read more here.
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“Organically produced foods also must be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering and other excluded practices, sewage sludge, or irradiation… Organic foods are minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation to maintain the integrity of the food. National Organic standards require that Organic growers and handlers be certified by third-party state or private agencies or other organizations that are accredited by USDA…”
– Read more here.
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Now, the FDA has separate standards for labeling cosmetic products. However, these standards must also comply with the USDA standards for certified Organic.
“FDA regulates cosmetics under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). The term “Organic” is not defined in either of these laws or the regulations that FDA enforces under their authority.”
 – Read more here.

Organic Doesn’t Necessarily Mean 100% Organic

The problem is, a label that has an Organic sticker on it, is not necessarily 100% Organic. The word Organic means that at least 95% of the ingredients used are Organic. Some products are labeled 100% Organic to let you know that only Organic ingredients and methods are involved. Other products including less than 95% Organic ingredients may say “Made with Organic ingredients”, or have Organic ingredients listed on the ingredient label.

– This source is helpful for more information.

Now consider this for a moment. If a product is not made with 100% Organic ingredients, it does contain other ingredients that are not Organic. These other ingredients could be wildcrafted, or chemical free… but there is a big possibility that they are not. Examples include herbs that are not Organically grown, All-Natural {synthetic} Fragrances, Chemical Preservatives, etc.

Did you know that one single Synthetic Fragrance can include anywhere from 200 – 600 different chemicals? Does this bother you? Have you even thought about it? Your Organic soap bar may have 200 – 600 chemicals added in… but all that you probably see at the very end of the ingredient label {if you see it at all} is “{insert fragrance type} Natural Fragrance”.

Organic Isn’t Everything

Just because an ingredient is labeled Organic doesn’t mean it wasn’t harmed by other means during the extraction or preparation process. Consider an essential oil that is steam distilled. Some companies will turn out a batch of essential oil in minutes… versus other companies that complete a batch in hours. The temperature, type of metal cooking chamber, and storage factors all affect the quality and nutrient-factors of an ingredient. Two Organic ingredients may arrive at your door – one containing nutrients from the plant, which were carefully preserved as much as possible using all the best methods… the other mostly deprived of its nutrients, due to quick short-cuts and inferior cost-cutting standards. Does this matter? Yes.

Less Than Organic

If the label doesn’t say 100% Organic, it is very likely that you’re getting a product that is contaminated {in some shape or form} by toxic chemicals.

But not always.

Beyond Organic

I know several farmers whose standards are definitely up to standard for Organic certification! And yet they do not have the Organic certification for their farms! Farms like this one, and this one. Would I buy their products? Do I trust their methods? Absolutely!

Why? Well, there are MANY reasons, but of course personal experience is always a big one!

I was blessed to spend a week on each of these farms! My family lived life right along-side these families. We woke up early and fed animals… spent days in the fields planting and harvesting and weeding… we butchered chickens and gathered eggs, and moved animals to new portions of pasture… we sorted and washed and organized and labeled and packaged… and then we took everything to market and educated the customers on the importance of making good choices for their health. I watched Kilpatrick Family Farm and Honey Brook Farms do what they do… and they did it right. {Of course you don’t have to spend a week on someone’s farm to know this! But know what to ask them, and what to look for!}

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“Keep in mind that even if a producer is Certified Organic, the use of the USDA Organic label is voluntary. At the same time, not everyone goes through the rigorous process of becoming certified, especially smaller farming operations. When shopping at a farmers’ market, for example, don’t hesitate to ask the vendors how your food was grown.”

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Wildcrafted

There’s also the option of wildcrafted… which basically means that the plants grow wild rather than on a farm. There cannot be an Organic certification on these herbs because they are not “farmed” by a farmer with an Organic certification! This is good because it means the plants aren’t being sprayed, fertilized, and cared for in all the typical commercial farm ways… but it does not necessarily mean that the plants are pure and good either. It is possible for some type of environmental contamination to occur. You will want to find a good trust-worthy source that is open and honest about where they get their plants from, and how they prepare them for use.

Conclusion

The problem with Organic is that we don’t even know what it means anymore. We use it as a cliche. We use it because it’s in style. But there are plenty of other great Farmers out there that provide Good, Pure, Wholesome, High-Quality ingredients and products. If we will take the time to find them and ask thorough questions, we will reap the benefits!

The problem with Organic is that it is not enough. There’s more to consider than whether or not your product has chemicals in it.

The problem with Organic is that it doesn’t always mean All-Organic… and we sometimes fail to recognize this.

Yes!! You can {although it is rare} find Good Wholesome, High-Quality ingredients and products that are not labeled Organic.

I Love Organic

Now, in case you think I am putting down Organic, I LOVE ORGANIC! I buy LOTS of Organic ingredients. I look for Organic ingredients, because I feel more confident that what I’m getting is safe and good! But I don’t put myself in an Organic box… and I don’t believe that every Organic ingredient/product is a good ingredient/product.

I don’t think I will ever go All-Organic. In fact, my goal is to grow a lot of my own herbs for my products {I harvested several types of herbs this year, which I air-dried for future use!} and yes they’re Organically grown in my garden!! Will I ever have an Organic certification for my garden? LOL probably not! Are my herbs just as good {or better} as the ones that come from another source? Yes! Not to mention, I have the option of using them fresh or air-drying them… less hands will handle them, and I can see the ingredients each step of the way – from start to finish.

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{Herbs from my garden that I harvested this year – Calendula and Feverfew}

Choosing What to Buy

When it comes to buying ingredients, it may be very difficult to determine whether or not a Non-Organic product qualifies as Organic in standard {remember the farms that are up to standard but not certified?}. It’s practically impossible for me to question a company about 20 different ingredients that I’m wanting to buy, and get a thorough understanding of what I want to know… however, if I’m shopping at a farm market I can easily ask the vendor how they grow their produce or what they feed their animals…

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So I’d like to encourage you to value the word Organic  while shopping for ingredients or products. But also be willing to ask questions of a company or store about both their Organic and Non-Organic products… focus on the things that really matter, that make the word Organic important to you in the first place. 

Value the Standard, not the Sticker

I’d like to suggest that what we truly value is an Organic standard… so much more than we want an Organic sticker. 

What are your thoughts?

I’ll be writing more later… so watch for future posts on what to look for {besides Organic}… and what questions to ask, when determining whether or not an ingredient or product is “safe”, and “good” quality.

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4 thoughts on “The Problem With Organic…

  1. Hi there, I’m finding your blog very comforting. I’m from Australia and have started to become extremely conscious about the products in the home and determined to.make this change by making my own products from scratch. I’m a stay at home mum of 2 and have spent the last 2 weeks researching. Thought it would be so easy bit in fact like you know it is not. It seems like I’m going down the path that you did so I find it reassuring to read your post and glad I found you. Thank you. Will keep reading your wisdom and guidance 🦋

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    • Hi Angela, welcome to the blog! So thrilled to hear that you’re starting out on this exciting journey! I wish you all the best and welcome any questions you might have. I’ve learned a lot over the years and hope that my blog is of help and encouragement to you!

      Like

    • Thank you Lorraine! I so appreciate all the materials you’ve shared that I’ve been able to benefit from, and I’m grateful to be a part of your online group. Loving all the educational information that you and others share. It’s definitely a journey that we are all on together and it’s SO encouraging to know that others are ready to share and be a helpful “knowledge source”, so that we are not alone 🙂

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