In these days of hyper information we are literally swamped with a plethora of labels on our food differentiating various attributes. From Fair Trade, Free Range, Natural, Non GMO, to low fat and Gluten Free, the array of claims have become encyclopedic. How are consumers supposed to know the best option? I think it’s time we communicate that the organic seal is the gold standard! It should be celebrated and promoted as the consumer’s premier choice!
Organic has only one brand and that brand is the USDA Organic seal. No other label has this level of regulatory requirement and oversight built into it. The organic seal can only be used if a product has a valid organic certificate from a National Organic Program (NOP) accredited certifying agent. This certificate is hard won and violations can lead to enforcement actions, including fines up to $11,000 per violation. Farmers, ranchers, processors and handlers must be certified to remain in compliance with the USDA Organic Regulations. Because of this rigorous process, consumers can then be certain of the product’s claims.
It’s time we begin to celebrate and talk more about the benefits of organic and hold it up as the gold seal of all labels. We need to spread the word that organic is good for you, good for the farmers and good for the planet! Tell people what the organic checklist is:
- Cannot use toxic and persistent pesticides: insecticides, herbicides and fungicides
- Cannot use synthetic fertilizers
- Cannot use genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- Cannot use irradiation or sewage sludge
- Utilize methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices
- Must foster the cycling of resources
- Must promote ecological balance
- Must conserve biodiversity
Additionally, the process and very culture of organic is one of transparency, dialogue and deliberation. No other area of our food supply has as much scrutiny and public discussion as does organic. The NOP seeks regular guidance from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The public has the opportunity to weigh in on all matters in person and with written comments. I don’t believe there is another food label that has this much interactive interchange and rigorous discourse. The organic seal literally shines with truth and transparency.
Unfortunately, as a community we don’t do a good enough job of letting the golden attributes of the organic label really shine forth. It’s tempting to get caught up in what’s wrong with the program, the regulations or even the people involved. We’re a passionate group of food advocates and many of us have built our very lives around the vision. Passion breeds opinionated voices with the power to move mountains. Let’s channel this momentum to declare that organic is the road to gold.
Let’s make organic sexy, affordable, exciting and easy to understand. Let’s not cast doubt, distrust and disbelief on the organic label. Organic is only 4% of the food chain. It is time to come together and grow organic by including celebration alongside the debate. As one of my blog commenters wrote,” The ‘Law of Attraction’ states you move towards that which you want to become. It’s a message more compelling than moving away from that which to avoid.”
Let’s recognize the gold that we have just under our rainbow!