With so many supposedly organic products on the market today, it’s easy to find something that you can at least feel good about giving to your family. Some health commentators have raised concerns that many organic foods and supplements might not be as natural as they seem, however, due in no small part to the way that labeling laws actually define the word organic. When parents see organic, they more than likely think that means a product is natural and free of artificial ingredients.
Unless a product specifies that it’s 100 percent organic, however, it doesn’t have to be all natural. Some organic products that don’t carry this label could still technically have been produced with synthetic pesticide as well as non-natural fertilizers, which could concern those who are trying to eliminate all harmful substances from their diet. As it turns out, having an eco-friendly household may not be quite as easy as some have hoped.
As it stands, there are several different classifications of organic goods according to the USDA.
Defining Organic in Various Ways
When a food service company wants to use the USDA’s organic seal, it has to follow a series of strict production and handling standards. These are designed to limit harmful soil quality improvement practices as well as exposure of the products to pest and weed control agents that aren’t fully natural. Some products, however, include items from multiple sources and these will be made with organic instead of organic. These products will have to be made from at least 70 percent certified organic ingredients. The remaining 30 percent, however, can be conventional sources.
Such products can’t be fully represented as organic, but many people will see them made with organic ingredients label and interpret that to mean that they’re organic. It’s important to look at the label quite closely in order to avoid confusion. Fortunately, the remaining 30 percent of ingredients in these products still can’t be manufactured in a prohibited way, so you shouldn’t normally find genetically modified ingredients in them.
Federal regulators have provided a list of allowed and prohibited substances that is designed to severely limit the amount of type of inorganic material that makes its way into supposedly natural food products. This should prove to be quite a comfort to some people who are concerned about the possibility of people passing off genetically engineered material as natural.
On the other hand, many proponents of whole food products will find it entirely too permissive. That’s where some smaller cottage-based businesses have come into play.
How Local Maryland Farmers are Changing the Definition
Chances are if you go to a local farmers’ market in the Chesapeake Bay, you’re going to get something that you would personally consider organic. Unless you’re particularly strict in your own personal definition of what constitutes an organic crop, you should be more than happy to buy produce this way. While some farmers might have used pesticides, it seems that consumers have gotten into the habit of washing their vegetables anyway.
This has helped to limit the impact that these chemicals have on those buying them. Some have opined that they prefer to purchase other products this way as well, including supplements, because of the fact that they’re sure they’re getting something that wasn’t made in the laboratory that way. According to representatives from Joy Organics, it’s actually become possible for shoppers to buy USDA certified organic tinctures and salves as well as foods, which might be of interest to those who also want to make sure that their supplements and cosmetics aren’t full of the same kind of chemicals they’ve tried to get rid of in their diets.
Reading Labels on All Sorts of Products
Those getting ready for Thanksgiving might be thinking about ordering a farm-fresh turkey, but at the same time they might also want to give a little thought to the soap they use on their hands after preparing said turkey. Soaps, lotions and countless other products are also available in an organic configuration. The makeup of these products might actually surprise you, because they’re often based on bits of seemingly lost age-old wisdom.
Wood lye, for instance, has made a big comeback as consumers try to find surfactants that aren’t made in a factory. Others have looked to goat’s milk and other natural agricultural sources of moisture. While these are showing up in farmers’ markets all over Maryland and Delaware, they’re also increasingly available online from boutique sellers who’ve gone into business to support their families.
More than likely, it’ll take quite some time for these products to show up in big box stores or the local supermarket. Until that happens, though, they’re becoming popular enough that it shouldn’t be too hard to find them somewhere close to home.