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Before you buy Organic make sure it is Organic

June 16, 2011

We have reproduced the following article from http://www.promotinggoodhealth.com/ with their kind permission. It is a salient reminder to always check that what you are eating is what you think you are eating.

                  “I like walnut bread. Freshly made, straight out of the oven, with a hint of sweetness from the added honey and the crunchy texture of walnuts from my very own walnut tree, it really is hard to beat. As happens, I had run out of organic flour, so trundled down to the local health food shop to buy more. My local shop has recently begun stocking flour they called “organic”. And there it was – in a large plastic bin complete with a label proudly advising consumers that it was organic. I looked closely at the label showing the fat, protein, and carbohydrate contents. However, there was nothing on the label to say who had certified the flour was organic or where it had come from. When I asked the sales assistant to tell me who the organic certifier was, I was met with a blank expression signifying – I think – that she did not know what I was talking about. When I explained that, as a consumer, I was entitled to ask who the certifying body was, I was told I was being difficult, and was “giving her a hard time”. All because I asked for something that is standard practice for retailers of organic food!

My recent experience was not unusual. The very same day I went into a self-proclaimed “organic shop” to buy some organic vegetables (by the way, it is worth mentioning that just because a it calls itself an “organic shop” does not mean that everything it sells is organic). There were lots of “organic” fruits and vegetables to choose from, with prices that apparently reflected this (double or more the non-organic price). Once again there was an absence of certification details for much of the produce. In view of my earlier experience, I weighed up whether to risk confrontation with the shop owner and decided against asking them for the certification information and walked out of the shop. It further illustrated the consumer has to be quite assertive when shopping for organic food. But why should they have to be?

In Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Canada, USA and many other countries around the world, there are systems in place to provide assurance for consumers that flour and any other food labeled “organic” has indeed been grown to legally defined conditions and standards. This includes being grown without pesticides or artificial fertilizers. This assurance comes through certification by an independent third party – An organic certification body or authority. Organic certification means the grower of the wheat, or any other food for that matter, has entered into a legally binding contract to grow their food under conditions laid down by the independent organic certification body. There is a lot more to it than this because the organic standards also include how the food is processed, packaged, stored, transported and how any animals involved in the production of the food are treated. If the grower fulfils his or her obligations under this agreement, then the grower is certified as “organic” by the independent authority and the grower and retailer are entitled to claim that the food is indeed organic and label it as such. As part of the certification process labels on organic foods should provide consumers with the identity of the certifier and a registration number. This labeling requirement is not simply some bureaucratic nonsense but rather is for the protection of consumers who are often confronted with labels such as “organically grown”, “minimal spray” or “pesticide-free”. As these terms have no legal definition, they are effectively meaningless are rely solely on the honesty of the grower, packaging company or retailer. They certainly do not necessarily mean the food was grown under the conditions set down by an independent organic certification body. It is also for the protection of farmers who have put in the time and effort and pay the costs of becoming an organically certified grower. The time and costs involved to achieve organic certification are considerable. To become an organic farmer may take up to three years during which time changes have to be made to convert any existing conventional agricultural production methods into those consistent with the standards set for organic production as laid down by the certifier. It also involves regular inspections and a higher level of auditing and record keeping. Changing from conventional to organic farming is a decision not to be taken lightly.

There are good reasons why consumers may want to know if a food is genuinely organic. One very good reason is the premium they pay for organic food, often double or more the price of non-organic food. Human nature being what it is, there is an incentive for a retailer or grower to obtain the higher price that consumers are willing to pay if they think a food is organic. There are also consumers who do not want to eat food that has been grown with artificial pesticides and fertilizers because they believe the pesticide residues present in conventionally grown food have the potential to do harm. There is evidence to support this view. Others want to eat organic food for ethical reasons because they believe it has been grown using methods that are not harmful to the environment. And finally, there are those who believe organic food tastes better and has a greater nutritional value than non-organic food. Whatever their beliefs, people who want and are prepared to pay for organic food have the right to get what they are paying for.” – Originally posted on April 14th, 2011 by Alf

Nushie’s Natural products save for its Truly Decadent Tiramisu Ice Creamery are all Australian Certified Organic. Our Tiramisu would be save that we have not been able to source a truly organic sherry, except an imported barnd from Spain at a huge price which would put Nushie’s Tiramisu out of range for everyone -  including Nushies Natural! We will keep trying.

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