CERTIFIED ORGANIC: IT MEANS A LOT!
Kombucha Manna International Newsletter XI
ORGANIC: according to the American Heritage dictionary means: 1. "Of,
relating to, or affecting an organ of the body. 2. Of, relating to,
or derived from living organisms. 3. Using or grown with fertilizers
consisting only of natural animal or vegetable matter. 4. Like an
organism in organization or development: an organic whole. 5. Of or
constituting an integral part of something; fundamental. 6. Chem. Of
or relating to carbon compounds.
Lately the word organic has been a buzz word for advertising all
kinds of products which may or may not have anything to do with
organic in the sense of the above definition. One such advertisement
that illustrates this point is a popular brand of shampoo that
proclaims their product is "organic" but whose ingredients label
lists many of the same chemicals found in regular shampoos. According
to a recent report by Frontier Cooperative: "organic products are one
of the fastest growing segments of the food industry -for the past
seven years, sales have been soaring at a 20% increase each year.
"Many products are now being called "organic" that are not
Recently; in order to differentiate what is genuinely organic from
what is merely called organic; another phrase, "Certified Organic"
has come into being. What does that mean? Certified Organic means
that a product has been followed from farm to market by an
independent third party organization whose responsibility is to check
to make sure that genuine organic practices, such as those specified
in the California Organic Foods Act of 1990, have been followed all
along the way. These standards specify that organic products must be
grown without chemicals; on land that has not had synthetic
fertilizers, growth regulators, insecticides, or herbicides applied
to it for a minimum of three years.
For example, our tea distributor certifies, in writing, that a third
party: "Quality Assurance International, ensures that their Certified
Organic products "retain their organic integrity through every phase
of the growing, storage, transport, further processing (blending,
flavoring, or decaffeination), and eventual packaging. Organic
Certification covers everything from the garden to the market".
Our sugar is Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth. "An Inspector from
Oregon Tilth inspects the mill and farms in order to renew their
organic certification." Oregon Tilth issues our distributor a handler
certificate: "which certifies that: all stages, from the crop to the
warehouses, have been inspected and certified as consistent with
organic principles and practices."
According to the National Organic Standards Board, "organic food
handlers, processors, and retailers adhere to standards that maintain
the integrity of organic agricultural products. To optimize the
health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life,
plants, animals and people" is the primary goal of organic
agriculture," according to the National Organic Standards Board.
"Sustainable agriculture" means growing practices which enrich the
land for the crops of the future rather than deplete it."
"Sustainable agriculture is another goal of organic farmers."
Why does this matter? It matters for many reasons. Despite thousands
of years of natural farming practices, more recently; especially
since World War II, many chemicals have been introduced into farming
practices for the first time. These chemicals are pesticides: used to
control insects, herbicides: used to control weeds, other chemicals
used to try to control plant diseases, and chemicals used to increase
the crop yield.
Do you want those chemicals in your food and drink? In your body? I,
for one, do not! No one knows the effect of _combining_ all of those
chemicals together and ingesting them day after day. Just as no one
knows the long term effects of taking in hormones meant to increase
milk production or growth rate in another animal into our human
bodies. Could those hormones have anything to do with the sudden
alarming increases in weight gain in the United States currently
experienced by so many people: even among our children? Could they
contribute to increases in Breast Cancer and other Cancers?
We are also beginning to learn about the devastating effects to our
drinking water resources of having these chemicals wash into our
water supply from streams, rivers, and wells, near farms that use
them. Things do not happen in a vacuum! What is sprayed on our plants
and gardens ends up in our water, as well as in our food. Often
migrant workers and their children and poor farmers in third world
countries suffer from sickness which may be related to the toxicity
of handling such chemicals. Some pesticides no longer legal to use in
the United States can be used freely in third-world countries and
then imported back into our country on our tea, coffee, fruit and
other foods. As they say: "what goes round comes round."
Let us take responsibility for what we support! Where we spend our
money makes a far stronger statement than most others we can make.
Many people are filtering or buying bottled water now because they
feel that the water that comes from their taps is not pure enough.
From now on, let us consider when we buy something what the effects
are of the means used to produce and process the products we buy and
where those effects are going to end up. Remember: "what you sow is
what you reap".
_You can make a difference_ just by buying Certified Organic products
whenever possible and asking for them if you do not see them where
© 1998 Beverly B. Ferguson
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