Sorting Out Organic Suppliers
More people are looking for organic food and products for a healthier lifestyle, free of chemicals and environmental toxins. In order to fully understand the meaning of organic suppliers, you need to understand the organic certification process.
Without an organic certification, there is no guarantee that products are truly organic. In the United States, the NOP, National Organic Program, has specific guidelines for a farmer to be certified organic. Internationally, the OCIA International certification is recognized. In addition, for any end product to be sold as organic, it must be certified through the entire process.
For example, a cotton blouse can be organic, if the cotton is grown on a certified farm organically, the picking and handling is done organically, the storage, processing to cotton fiber or thread is organically done and the blouse is assembled organically, without the use of any chemicals, fertilizers or treatments.
Many people think that organic farming means not using pesticides, but the process is more stringent than that. First of all, a farm cannot have used any chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides for the three years prior to the final certification. Any implements, tools or storage containers cannot be chemically sanitized or treated and even the seeds used need to be organic, without treatments.
A third party certifier that has passed the requirements of the NOP does the unbiased certification process and follow-ups to make sure the farmer is in compliance. If it involves raising animals, such as cattle or chickens, then the same thing is true of the pasture they eat, foods they are fed, and they are to be treated in a humane way, such as free ranging or grass fed. Not only does organic mean no use of chemicals, but it is environmentally beneficial. Any pest control would be handled by beneficial insects that eliminate the bad ones, for example.
When choosing organic suppliers, it is important that you look for the NOP certification, if you want certified organic products. While there are penalties for making false claims of products organic origins, it can still happen, especially with so many foreign importers. Understanding the true meaning of organic can help determine, but just because you dont use fertilizers or avoid pesticides and grow vegetables in your backyard is not sufficient.
Farmers have to protect from contamination of over-spray from neighboring farmers or contamination from water run-off, for example. If your backyard had pesticides used on it last year, it is not enough to be classified as organic for another two years, at least. In addition, just because the garden area may not have been treated, if your grass was treated, there could be a chance of the over-spray or runoff contamination, as an example of the stringent certification process.
When you are sorting through organic suppliers, looking for the NOP or the OCIA International Organic certification is the only true way to know that a supplier has truly met the stringent requirements. The International Organic program is administered through third party certifiers, as well, and importers or exporters are starting to realize the importance of the certifications on an international market for organic products. These certifications are the only way that you can be reasonably sure that you are not paying more for organic products that arent really organic.