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So What is Organic

Author: Michelle Wollaston

With allergies on the increase and sensitivities to synthetics becoming life threatening,we are looking for products which aren’t going to make us sneeze or break out in rashes or irritate our children’s sensitive skin. We scan the supermarket and health food store shelves and find there is a huge range of products on our shelves that claim to be “all natural” and “organic”, but are they?

When it comes to skin care or body products, the ingredients used are generally derived from plants. We want to know that these plants have been grown or farmed in such a way that they are not laced with chemicals, pesticides or hormones, which subsequently leech into our skin and cause us harm.

Organic farming means farming in a way that cares for the environment, without relying upon synthetic chemicals and other unnatural interventionist approaches to farming and food production. Hence, organic food comes from organic farms utilising the best of both traditional agriculture and modern techniques.

Rather than using synthetic pesticides to kill pests, farmers prevent pests by planting a diverse range of crops, by rotations, using natural biological and environment friendly applications, and conserving natural ecosystems. This means no artificial pesticides, no herbicides, no hormones and no growth promotants that have questionable place in our aim to maintain healthy bodies.

The same logic of natural and preventative health management (rather than reactive disease management) is applied to GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, that the organic industry prohibits in the production of organic foods. With many safe and proven forms of farming already available, the organic farmer believes it is important to allow Mother Nature to provide us with food the way nature intended. For organically processed foods and personal care products, only minimal processing is permitted, with a limited number of non-agricultural but natural or traditional ingredients allowed. Hence no synthetic chemicals, unnatural dyes, colourings, flavourings or other additives are permitted.

Now you know how they grow it, but how do you know the farmer is following the rules. You look for the Certification Logo on the packaging.

SO WHAT IS CERTIFICATION? The certification program was set up in the 1980s by the BFA to ensure that what was claimed to be organic was just that. It required an independent set of Standards and an independent team of assessors (known as auditors) to ensure that farmers, processors and others in the production chain were complying with the rules and regulations laid down by the organic community.

To obtain organic certification for a product, a minimum of 95% of all ingredients of agricultural origin must be certified organic. The remaining 5% of ingredients however are also bound by strict guidelines. They are, for example, not permitted to be synthetic chemicals or artificially processed ingredients.

There are two levels or categories to certification: Farmers require a minimum of three years of organic management before they can carry a certification stating “Organic”. There is a transitionary certificate called “In Conversion to Organic” which can be borne after the first 12 months of organic production until the three-year period is complete. In both instances, foods bearing either label confirm that those products are being produced organically.

SO WHO MONITORS THE MONITORS? The BFA, via its certification arm, is strictly scrutinised both nationally and internationally by organisations such as AQIS – the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service as well as IFOAM – the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, and other international government authorities. There are no substitutes or half-measures in organic farming and production. The BFA is a not-for-profit co-operative, owned by its members, which ensures that the true interests of the organic community are maintained and upheld.

SO WHY PURCHASE CERTIFIED ORGANIC PRODUCTS? Every time you purchase certified organic products you are investing in the future of your country, its hard-working and caring farmers and their families. This is a future we can ill afford to ignore. We have the power to make a difference. One thing we can do every day to support our sustainable agricultural future is to purchase certified organic products.

Of course the personal health and wellbeing benefits of organic products are well documented. No wonder this industry is growing at the rate it is. People around the world are awakening to a realisation of what they have been missing out on for decades.

The benefits of certified organic products and processes:

* Independent third-party guarantee of quality, and purity of ingredients.

* Safe, clean and potent plant extracts of high vitality.

* Sustainable agriculture that respects, supports and nurtures the complete ecology and energy of our planet.

* Authenticity and integrity of organic and natural claims.

*Prevention of damage to the environment and humans by the poisonous chemicals used in conventional agriculture.

While 'natural' and 'organic' claims abound, the only way you can be sure is by using a fully certified organic range of products. Many may claim to use organic ingredients, but none have achieved third party independent certification without the display of the Certified Organic Logo.

Michelle Wollaston is a wellness consultant and distributor of the world's 1st range of Certified Organic products. For more information on these products please visit http://www.miessenceorganic.com For more articles please send an email to borganic@bigpond.com. This article can be reprinted freely provided it is published in its entirety

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