Your Guide to Buying Organic Products
Organic products have become more evident especially now that people are looking for better ways to live healthy and eco-friendly. We see products such as food, cosmetics, and even cleaning products that are labelled "organic" in groceries and online, but what does "organic" really mean?
For starters, organic is not only defined by the product, but it is also defined by how the product was processed, grown, and harvested.
To be more specific, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of chemicals such as:
- synthetic fertilizers
- sewage sludge
- genetically modified organisms
- ionizing radiation
It doesn't sound too simple, right? So how do you know if the product you are buying is truly organic?
We've listed four ways to determine this!
Verify the claims.
With the popularization of organic products, the market is flooded with products that claim to be organic or natural when, in fact, the mix of ingredients are not entirely organic or natural. You can verify this by checking the products' certifications. There are various international certifications you can find such as USDA (American Organic Standards), and COSMOS (European Organic Standards: The COSMOS Standard).
Check for certifications.
Certifications on products simply mean that they have been evaluated by different certifying bodies which proves that they do contain organic and natural ingredients. Aside from the ingredients itself, it also proves that the products have been produced, stored, processed, handled, and marketed in accordance with precise technical specification.
Below is a list of certifications you can familiarize on:
1. USDA Certification - The USDA Certification has 4 classifications which are:
- USDA 100% Organic - 100% organic ingredients, uses the USDA Organic Seal with an additional "100% Organic" claim.
- USDA Organic - product can contain up to 5% non-organic ingredients, uses the USDA Organic Seal without the "100% Organic" claim.
- Made with Organic Ingredients - product contains at least 70% certified organic ingredients; remaining 30% is nor required to be certified organic but may not be produced using excluded methods. Products like these may NOT use the USDA Organic Seal.
- Specific Organic Ingredients - product contains less than 70% certified organic ingredients, may only list specific certified organic ingredients. Products like these may NOT use the USDA Organic Seal.
2. European Organic Standards: The COSMOS Standard - The COSMOS Standard has 2 classifications which are:
- COSMOS Organic - products labelled as such can be either Organic with at least 95% organic content or Made with Organic with 10-20% organic content.
- COSMOS Natural - products labelled as such mainly contain ingredients from natural origin. These products may contain some organic ingredients, though, not enough to meet COSMOS Organic standards.
Check the ingredients list.
Photo Credit: Radico USA
Interpreting food labels and marketing claims can be quite difficult for customers. Organic is the most common term or label that customers are familiar with, but grasping what organic really means is another step which would help them greatly.
So how do you know that the produce you are purchasing is really organic aside from the certifications?
Checking the ingredients could play a huge role to purchasing such produce. The list of ingredients are usually found on the back or side of almost every packaging so if you're feeling a little skeptical about a product being organic, check the ingredients!
Here's a light tip: if you can't seem to pronounce or if it's a difficult ingredient name at first glance, it's not always a good sign. Usually, plant-based and herbal ingredients are listed by their common name, along with their scientific name in parenthesis.