What's in a name - Organic or Natural?
It recently came to our attention that there are a lot of questions regarding the terms “Organic” and “Natural.” And I can understand that because the term “Natural” is thrown around a lot and most people think it means that there are no additives and it is used to describe something healthy. After all the dictionary definition indicates that the item being referred to as “Natural” is not made by man but exists in nature. Of course, in this day and age when something good is called “Bad or Wicked,” we should probably be on the alert. In point of fact, there are no industry standards regarding the term “Natural.” It could mean what the layperson would understand the definition to be or it could mean that there are a few natural ingredients added to a synthetic product or, more than likely, there are no natural ingredients at all.
The term “Organic” denotes the true meaning of the word natural. Organic means that there are no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, plant growth products, hormones or routine antibiotics. It also means no GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms – another subject. Farmers who subscribe to farming organically rely on crop rotation, companion planting, crop residues, animal manures, mechanical and hand cultivation to maintain soil productivity. Additionally they use hand weeding, tilling, and cover crops to supply plant nutrients, and to control weeds, insects and other pests. Actually, most organic farmer can also be classified as “Sustainable Agriculture” because this term refers to the ability of a farm to produce food with people, land, plants, and animals working in unison.
Additionally Organics are regulated through the NOP (National Organic Program) Standards which were established in 2001. A farm would be certified as organic through a certifying agency such as MOSA (Midwest Organic Services Association) or OCIA (Organic Crop Improvement Association). There is one caveat that clouds the issue and that is that the NOP Standards allows a farm selling less than $5,000 a year to use the term “organic” without being certified organic. This can cause confusion in places like Farmers Markets. Many will say they are organic because they do not know what the term means. You will have to determine their expertise by understanding the term yourself and quizzing them on it.
There are labeling requirements pertaining to a product being labeled as organic. There is even a special seal that tells the customer that the product is certified organic.
To have this seal on you product it must be 100% organic or at least 95% organic by weight (excluding water and salt). Additionally, if there is at least 70% of content ingredients are organic then the front product panel may display the phrase "Made with Organic" followed by up to three specific ingredients, however, it cannot display new USDA Organic seal). And lastly, if the product has less than 70% organic ingredients then the company may list those ingredients as organic on ingredient panel but cannot list the organic ingredient on the main panel (they may not display the USDA Organic seal above.) Keep in mind that the ingredients must be deemed organic by a certifying agency so somewhere on the product it should list the certifying agency.
The RCR Organic Feedstore sells organic feed that is USDA Organic and is certified by an accredited organic certifier according to the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP.) To see the complete list of feeds we carry and use is located here.
Author: Cindy Rivers
Owner and Operator www.riverscritters.com