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What Does “Organic” Mean?
We at Drew’s Honeybees feel strongly about using organic ingredients in all of our products, so we want to take some time to explain why that’s important and what it means exactly. We are all used to seeing the word “organic,” whether it be on the food we’re looking to buy or on our beauty products. While it definitely is not an unknown term, its exact definition might not be familiar to most consumers. There is still quite a bit of debate and discussion around organic certifications and regulations in the United States, but it is important to have a working knowledge of the organic process before diving into that. In our first post on the topic, we are going to give a quick overview of the definition of organic and how products can qualify as such.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognizes four different types of organic production, which are: crops (or plants specifically grown to be harvested), livestock, processed or multi-ingredient products, and wild crops (or plants that came from a site that is not cultivated). When it comes to the actual products you see in stores, you might see a “Certified Organic” or “USDA Organic” seal on them, which means that 95 percent of the ingredients used in that product must be certified organic, or free of any synthetic additives and they must be processed in a certain way. The remaining five percent can include food or additives, but they must adhere to a list approved by the USDA.
Of course, this is all easier said than done. As shown in the link above, there are a plethora of regulations and intricate details that producers of organic products must adhere to in order to use the USDA seal, and the violation of any of them can cause companies to pay out civil penalties and to have their organic certification revoked. As well, on top of the specific products and their potential ingredients needing to qualify as organic as per the requirements, any company that is intending to produce and sell them must undergo a three-year transition period where any land they are using to produce organic products cannot be treated with any of the prohibited substances as defined by the USDA. These companies must submit an application for organic certification, which if approved is then followed up by an inspection.
These protocols are specific to the United States, as almost every country has a different system and set of requirements for organic certification and production. Generally speaking, they all tend to include the prohibition or heavy restriction of synthetic additives and guidelines for how the land is used.
When it comes to the benefits of organic products, there definitely are some. Organic farms may have a lower environmental impact than traditional ones according to some studies, and they do provide a lower risk to exposure of potentially harmful pesticides and other chemical additives. Whether organic food is actually healthier for you in terms of nutritional value is still debated, and something we at Drew’s will go into more detail in with our next post. However, buying organic definitely cannot hurt you, and can absolutely be helpful in keeping our environment healthy and sustainable.