Organics: Why Organic and Organic Certification?

By: Luis Bartello

In this issue we are going to explain to you a little bit more about organics and its use, as well as the possibilities of certification and reasons for certification.

But first of all:

What is Organic?

Organic refers to an “earth friendly” method of growing/farming and processing foods. Plants, weeds and pests are controlled using environmentally sound practices, which sustain the health of the plants, our planet and ultimately, our own health.

Organic systems recognise that our health is directly connected to the food we eat and ultimately, the future of our soil. One of the main features of organic farming is the complete restriction of artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides in any part of the food chain. It uses only naturally composted and reclaimed materials to sustain a healthy and living soil and to protect the natural countryside and landscape. The use of organics in agriculture is obviously not a new phenomenon but a naturally occurring process.

It has been since the dawn of time that the earth has recycled its natural deposits into reusable energies and nutrition, a natural balance that has always existed and which is ultimately the basis of all growth. Humans, animals and plants are all living, feeding and expiring together simultaneously in a self-sustaining life cycle where existence is based on what has gone before, whilst providing the foundations for future life to come.

Why Organics?

During the world wars of the last century, people-power was in short supply in the agricultural industry as all resources were directed to the war efforts. Ways of increasing productivity and maintaining the food chain were as important as bombs. Therefore the same scientists that were designing weapons of mass destruction were set to work creating cheap chemical substitutes to replace the labour intensive organic farming methods.

These factory-made chemical fertilizers take away from the soil rather than building it. Instead of recycling raw organic materials and leaving the land to rest, chemical use meant crops could be grown in continuous cycles whilst producing large crops free from pests and other natural hazards. After rendering soil useless in the name of a temporary fix, these industrial chemicals are then washed into the earth’s water tables killing and mutating fish, algae, and coral reef. Residual traces of chemicals and pesticides can be found in the produce itself, in the food we eat everyday. The cost of clearing this pollution runs into many millions of dollars.

Eating organic fruits, vegetables or herbs, grown without the use of “chemi-kills” or pesticides, has been proven to boost the immune system of animals and help them recover from disease. We also believe that agriculture should come “back-to-earth” and out of the laboratories.

Furthermore, organic delivers the highest quality, best tasting food grown without artificial chemicals or genetic modification, with complete respect and care for the environment. The health benefits of eating organic products are numerous. Studies have shown that organically reared crops contain greater sources of vitamins, minerals and amino acids than chemically grown food due to the complete spectrum of nutrients within the soil structure. Organic produce also contains many more phytonutrients that are involved in protecting the plants from pests and diseases. These are produced profusely in organic crops due to the non-use of artificial pesticides. The plants instead rely upon the miracle of nature and produce their own natural defence system. These phytonutrients are now being closely studied in medicine and are proving to be useful in the treatment of cancer.

Organic Certification

There are a lot of organizations dedicated to preserving the standards of organic growing and producing. We are going to discuss two of them; the SKAL/EKO (the international foundation that supervises biological/organic production worldwide) and the United States Organic Review Material Institute.

The SKAL International foundation issues the EKO quality mark. Biological/organic products do not contain any chemical fertilizers or pesticides, chemical or synthetic flavours, colours or preservatives. Furthermore products that have been certified by SKAL International may not contain any genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). Skal International is the only inspection and certification organization that may issue the certification mark, EKO quality symbol, outside the European Union. The consumer can recognize an organic product, inspected and certified by Skal International, by the EKO quality symbol.

Skal International has been authorized as an international inspection and certification organization in the EU member states under the Regulation (EEC) Nr. 2092/91.

The Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI) in the United States is a non-profit organization created to ensure and benefit the organic community and the general public. OMRI certification is worldwide recognized as a high standard for Organic manufacturers, distributors and, of course, for the end consumer.

Its primary mission is to publish and disseminate generic and specific (brand name) lists of materials allowed and prohibited for use in the production, processing and handling of organic food, crop and fibre. OMRI also conducts scientific research and education on the use of materials by the organic industry.

While certifiers share broad consensus about organic standards, enough differences exist that a material approved for use by one certifier may not meet another certifier’s standards. OMRI assists in harmonizing the organic industry by streamlining redundant materials review programs and helping to create agreements on materials.

In the end, the choice of products is yours. The only thing that is important is to get as much information as possible to make a well-considered decision for yourselves based upon the information provided.

Until the next time as always, enjoy your Maximum Yield magazine.

JL, Biobizz