Organic Certification


Recently, I have been looking at labels on some of the organic products I buy and noticed that there are a lot of different groups and organizations doing the certification. This made me wonder how certification may vary from product to product. Like many consumers, I just reach for an organic product without giving a lot of thought to how it has been certified organic. I know about Oregon Tilth and their certification program, and thought that there were just a few other similar groups doing certification. I thought that certification was a stringently controlled process. Now, having noticed that the certification can be done by any one of many different certifiers, some apparently set up just to certify specific products, I am less confident about the accuracy.

In the past, it seemed that most of the organic products I consumed were vegetables and fruit. Some people would say that at least I am eating my fruits and veggies. If a few of the apples labeled organic are not 100% organic, it is not the end of the world. Just off the top of my head, I have three arguments against this attitude.

– First, I really believe if something is certified organic, it should be organic, period. Something is not mostly organic, it either is or is not. Also, the standards used to certify organic need to be strict and consistent form certifier to certifier.

– Second, as I buy more and varied products labeled organic, (think clothes, soap, prepared foods, and even beverages), organic becomes a bigger and more important part of my consumption so the reliability of certification becomes more important to me.

– Third is the conscious choice consumers make to use and consume organic products. Often this choice is as much a statement of support for sustainable and responsible growing and production processes as it is anything else. If I buy an organic cotton T-shirt, I buy because I believe the cotton was grown, and the shirt made, in a more sustainable manner.

I want to know that the organic label really means something, I want to know what that something is, and I want to know for sure I am getting what I pay for. I hope my concerns are not valid, but I plan to look into the process further to become more educated. I’ll post back with what I learn.

I guess I have been trusting that the certification process is reliable. I hope my future research proves that it is, but I am having a few concerns. Stay tuned.

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Will Sig

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