Organic 101: Taylor explains the importance of our 2017 resolution to choose #Organic

taylor_editedBefore our team journeyed home for break, we agreed our resolution for 2017 was to lead a more organic lifestyle. What does that mean? Earlier this past semester, I had my first Natural Products Expo experience that would forever mold me as a young professional. Walking through the aisles with nearly 30,000 people, I noticed many booths proudly boasting a USDA Organic label. I had seen this on some household items of mine but never really looked into what it meant exactly. I knew that to be certified organic meant growers could not use genetically modified organisms or synthetic pesticides. But what else did it involve? What other tactics were these farmers using that conventional farms were not? Luckily, there was a seminar I could attend to help find answers to these questions: Organics 101. Here are my top five take-aways:

1.)    To become certified organic, farmers and processors must prove that there has been no use of prohibited substances in the past 36 months. Certain substances are prohibited by the USDA due to their effect on human health and the environment. Having a three-year transition period forces farmers and processors to make sure their facilities are clean from the ground up and that there are few if any traces of these substances from when conventional practices were used.

2.)    The list of allowed substances the USDA has created does not include growth hormones, sewage sludge, irradiation, genetic engineering, and/or synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. The list of allowed substances is drastically shorter than those conventional farms have to use.

3.)    For a processed product to be considered organic, 95% of its ingredients must be organic. The other five percent of ingredients must be on the “allowed substance list”. This list mostly includes ingredients that have not yet been grown under organic standards. Also the product must be processed in a facility that uses cleaning supplies that are approved by the USDA.

4.)    Livestock on an organic farm cannot remain on the farm if they have been treated with antibiotics. This makes farmers first turn to homeopathic remedies for their animals, something I thought was pretty progressive. But if the sickness is at a level where antibiotics is the only way to treat the animal, the animal must be deported off the farm! Antibiotic usage is strictly prohibited on organic farms.

5.)    Farms are certified by an approved independent third-party certifier and are checked on annually to see if they are upholding USDA standards. Penalties include a $10,000 fine per violation.

As you can see, it takes a lot of work and time to become organic. But this is all work and time that companies and brands should be putting into their products. When this effort is applied a safer product is created. I believe that if we all voted more often for organic products by using our wallets, companies would compete with each other more often as to who has the safest product. I believe if we can all come together and create a demand for clean, safer products, we can reduce the amount of cancers and endocrine related disorders we have in this world.

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