It’s a term we simply cannot avoid these days; we know that “organic” is supposed to be a good thing – a healthier option – but what does it actually mean? If you Google the definition of organic you will learn that it is “a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods.” The organic standards describe the specific requirements that must be verified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent before products can be labeled USDA organic. So, what exactly are these approved methods?
The general population may not have a strong understanding of the USDA’s definition of the term organic and the defining standards associated with it. That’s because a lot of factors determine whether or not a product can be certified organic and quite frankly, people tend to believe what they want to believe with little to no investigation. The USDA’s website is an invaluable tool for those seeking to educate themselves on the topic. According to a statement made by the USDA’s Natural Organic Program, “True, organic producers use natural processes and materials when developing farming systems—these contribute to soil, crop and livestock nutrition, pest and weed management, attainment of production goals, and conservation of biological diversity.” In a nutshell, the USDA describes these approved methods as including processes of “maintaining or enhancing soil and water quality; conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife; and avoiding use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering.” Put in simpler terms, organic is expensive.
It’s clear that due to these stringent standards, certified organic products are not easily produced. Our sales team frequently receives inquiries about whether our terpenes are certified organic. According to the definition that only the USDA, SKAL (Europe/Asia) or Eco Cert (European Union) may give an authenticated organic certification, we only have one product (D-Limonene) that meets this standard. These inquiries often stem from advertising seen in a non-regulated industry where wordplay, stock photos, and the power of suggestion run rampant and unchecked. It seems everything sold by everyone is organic these days, and thus - the delve deeper into this subject began.
As it turns out, there are a lot of terpene companies within the cannabis market that are simply and quite shamelessly throwing around the word organic as if it were funfetti sprinkles. These websites will boast "organic" logos that appear real enough to the unsuspecting buyer, when the reality is that they are generic stock photos. In a non-regulated space, it’s easy to do this without any repercussion. There is an entire movement behind organic food - farm to table, eat local, SLOW food, Good Food, etc. – and this is a highly regulated industry with high visibility and social impact. As such, we as a society have ultimately become desensitized to the actual meaning of the word "organic- 1.relating to or derived from living matter.” So, hair is organic, and fingernails, and everything that is derived from a plant or animal. This normalization of the term organic confuses consumers understanding of what organic really means.
Here’s a great example; the FDA rule 7 CFR 205.605 is manipulated by many companies to falsely (and legally) advertise their products as organic. FDA rule 7 CFR 205.605 list- Nonagricultural (nonorganic) substances allowed as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as “organic” or “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s)).” On this list, under flavors it states that flavors can be used in organic or made with organic products, if the flavors are produced using “non-synthetic sources only and must not be produced using synthetic solvents and carrier systems or any artificial preservative.” That does not say that flavors are organic, just that they can be used in organic products.
The true nature of what organic means is being misrepresented in the name of marketing and sales. The conclusion is simple - if you really care about true organic products then ask your supplier to provide proper certification. If the terpene supplier does not have certification from the NOP program of the USDA, or from SKAL or Eco Cert, or any of the smaller certification organizations, then it is not certified organic. If the product does not have those certifications, it has not gone through the rigorous standards required of certification. Ask questions. Was the soil that the plant was grown in certified organic? Were the farm's anti-insect, disease and anti-fungal methods certified organic? Were the products used in extraction all certified organic? There are many layers to true organic.
It’s a lot to take in, so here’s our quick guide to navigate the vast ocean of “organic” labeling out there. These are a few logos you may see on websites that are easily attainable via Google. They quite literally mean nothing and have no backing to the claimed certifications.
These are the logos that you want to see on your certified organic products. Notice how few there are?
Welcome to the wonderful world of advertising!