In this post we will talk about why we choose not to certify Nutribuddy products as organic.
What is Organic?
Organic is a certification that confirms the product meets certain requirements. According to the Soil Association, one of the main organic bodies, the criteria includes but is not limited to:
- the food has been produced with fewer pesticides
- the food is free range (if it’s an animal product)
- antibiotics are not routinely used
- ingredients are GM-free
The principles of organic certification are great. Using less artificial chemicals which are damaging for the environment is a step in the right direction. Herbicides and pesticides kill off lots of plants and animals which has terrible effects on the environment. You will probably have heard of the bee crisis where much-needed bumble bees are becoming rarer and rarer due to these chemicals. Therefore organic regulations to minimise pesticides and herbicides is no doubt a step in the right direction for both the environment and for the bees!
Furthermore, it’s beneficial to our health too! A study conducted in 2016 suggested that there may be a link in consuming foods which have experienced heavy pesticide use, with premature births. Therefore, by limiting pesticide use, we are also making a step to improving our health as well.
What’s The Problem with Organic?
You’re perhaps thinking that organic sounds great so why wouldn’t we want to be certified as organic? The simple answer is that it’s a little more complicated than that. Organic standards are much more than the four short bullet-points above. For example, the soil must be routinely tested to ensure chemical levels are below a certain level which can take years to achieve, even if you have been growing food without chemicals.
Contrasting drastically to the ‘strict’ standards, organic bodies have a list of approved non-organic ingredients. What this means is that the ingredient isn’t organic but you can still use it in a product and class the product as organic. Strange, right?
Although we strongly agree with most of the organic principles. There are a couple we aren’t as confident with. We shall go into this all in more detail below!
1. Organic Doesn’t Always Mean Higher Animal Welfare Standards
Food produced in the wild can never be certified as organic as it isn’t regulated, even though occurring food is far better for our environment than farmed food. Just look at the salmon situation, as an example. Farmed salmon can be certified as organic as the salmon isn’t treated with antibiotics but the salmon is still kept in poor conditions, over-fed and has limited space (you can tell this by how fatty the salmon is compared to wild salmon). Although antibiotics are not routinely used, the salmon are actually treated with other chemicals approved by organic bodies such as lice treatment. This treatment is in fact damaging for crustaceans, making it an environmental disaster!
On the other hand, wild salmon, caught from the wild after living free lives, can never be classed as organic as who knows what the salmon has been eating? But which salmon is actually better for the environment and animal welfare?
There was an incident within the past year where an organic dairy farm which supplies to Waitrose was caught mistreating their animals. Distressing footage showed calves being force-fed, cows being chained and shackles and calves being dragged away screaming from their mothers. It begs the question of how was this allowed to happen if the farm was being regulated by the Soil Association? What’s even more shocking is upon discovering the clear animal-abuse, the Soil Association didn’t require the instant dismissal of the staff involved and the farm still trades as organic.
Finally, organic certification is nothing to do with how the animals are slaughtered. All animals, organic or not, are taken to the same slaughter houses and treated exactly the same.
2. The Approved Non-Organic Ingredient List is Dubious
The EU organic regulations have a list of non-organic approved ingredients. These are ingredients that are not produced in-line with organic standards which you can use in your products and still call them organic. You’d assume that these ingredients however would be natural and safe, especially considering the Soil Association website states that artificial preservatives are not in-line with organic standards. Well. you’d be surprised to learn that nitrites (yes, those cancer-causing preservatives) are approved. More than that, health officials have been questioning the use of them in organic farming but the Soil Association is trying to delay the review of nitrates over ‘quality’ fears.
No-one can doubt the concerns with these preservatives. Numerous reviews and scientific studies have yielded worrying results. Therefore it is strange that it is an approved ingredient given that organic is supposed to indicate quality.
On the other end of the spectrum, ingredients which are classed as safe are not approved. One example of this is stevia. Stevia is a sweetener of natural origin that contains 0 calories. Studies also show that stevia has health benefits. These include reduced calorie intake, blood sugar levels, and risk of cavities.
Despite being safer and healthier than some ‘approved’ alternatives such as refined sugar, stevia somehow never made it on the EU list of approved non-organics which can be included in organic products. It’s worth noting that it is however on the USA approved organic list!
So Are We Organic?
Although we ensure we source all our wholefood ingredients from certified organic suppliers, we are not certified as organic because we use stevia to sweeten our products. Of course, we could reformulate our products to include an ‘approved’ sweetener but this goes against all our beliefs. We have done our research alongside nutritionalists to find the safest ingredients to include in our products and all research and advice as told us that stevia is the best sweetener to use. Therefore we are shunning the organic certification to produce products that we believe in.
Don’t get me wrong, we do strongly agree with most of the organic principles which is why we incorporate them into our production. We just don’t agree with all of them. You have to comply with all to be certified organic.
Just like choosing wild salmon and wild honey, organic doesn’t make nutritious shakes any better than non-organic. Instead it’s about the company’s ethics. Do they source their ingredients from sustainable sources? Do they use cancer-causing additives? Is the product nutritionally healthy? Is it high or low in sugar content? Are ingredients imported or locally-grown? These instead are the questions you should ask yourself when purchasing any food product.