Though organic has been around for nearly 30 years, it is only in the last couple of years, its recently ballooned into a phenomenally popular category of foods. Organic products have found their way into nearly 80% of households in the US.
Technically, something is organic if it contains a Carbon molecule. That’s not what we mean when we discuss an organic tea or product, though. So, what does it mean to be organic and why should you care about organic products?
USDA Organic Certification
Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storing, processing, packaging and shipping. In the US, the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), authorizes a National Organic Program (NOP) enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Whew! That’s a lot of acronyms. Basically, there are organizations in place to ensure that growers and manufacturers who claim they’re organic are abiding by strict laws and regulations. Though the USDA enforces the regulation, companies must be certified through a third party company, too. In short: if you want to get a product organic certified, you’re going to need to jump through a lot of hoops! (And that’s a good thing!)
Here’s the Nitty-Gritty of Organic Regulations:
- No human sewage sludge fertilizer used in cultivation of plants or feed of animals
- Avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs not on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of bio solids
- Use of farmland that has been free from prohibited synthetic chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more years)
- Keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail)
- Maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products
- Undergoing periodic on-site inspections (typically annually)
There Are Regulations for Names, Too!
Even after you are certified, you’ll need to be careful about the way you label your products. There are even regulations on how to use the words “Organic” and the USDA Organic seal. For example, a product cannot be called “100% Organic” unless it is made with only organic ingredients and processing aids. No non-organic ingredients may be used, but you can use the USDA seal to label your product and let consumers know your product is totally organic! If a product is 95% organic ingredients, it can simply be called “Organic.” These products have the USDA seal on them, too.
Sometimes, products don’t have the USDA seal, but they’re made with several organic ingredients. These products, aptly called “Made With Organic Ingredients” are made with at least 70% organic ingredients. Anything with less than 70% organic ingredients can only mention having organic components in the ingredients list.
Organizations take great care to make sure Organic producers are transparent about their processes and their products. You can be certain that when you buy any Art of Tea product with a USDA Organic seal, like Earl Grey Creme, Moroccan Mint, or Green Pomegranate. You can shop all of our organic teas here.