What are you getting when you buy organic vitamins and supplements?
One of most exciting aspects of running a USDA Certified Organic vitamin, mineral, supplement, and snack food business is watching the popularity of organic foods, health and beauty products, and house cleaners rise. I’m a common sense sort of person and believe wholeheartedly in modern medicine, a good french fry now and then, and not obsessing about what I can’t control.
But for decades I have also been learning about the dangers inherent in our food supply chain and in heavily-processed foods. I’m glad to see the public taking health leaders seriously about the effects of herbicides and pesticides. Chemicals change the molecular makeup of our food and food storage treatments, designed to keep food looking perfect for grocery store shelves, destroy much of the product’s actual nutrition.
Unsurprisingly, as health and wellness became top of mind for consumers, marketers found ways to change the meaning of simple terms like “natural,” “whole food,” and “organic.” Today these terms are plastered on many product packages and are essentially meaningless.
What means what
“100% USDA Certified Organic” is the highest standard recognized for purity and integrity of ingredients, harvesting practices, and manufacturing processes in the vitamin and supplement industry. To achieve this unique designation, all ingredients must be certified organic, any processing aids must also be organic, and the manufacturer must also display the name of the certifying agent organization on the label. Products earning this designation may also display the USDA logo on labels and packaging.
“Made with organic ingredients” means just that. To be USDA approved, products making this claim must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. The ingredients in the formulation must be grown, harvested, and processed in accordance with organic standards. The remaining ingredients, while not required to be organic, cannot be produced using methods excluded by the USDA, and must be on a specific National List of approved ingredients and other non-agricultural substances.
“USDA Certified Organic” is quite a tough standard to achieve. Vitamins, minerals, and supplements displaying the USDA Certified Organic claim may display the coveted round USDA logo only if a minimum of 95% of the total ingredients used are certified organic, and the labels must state the name of the certifying agent organization (approved by the USDA), as well as meet the wider organic criteria. At Nova Scotia Organics, we are pleased to offer vitamins, minerals, supplements, and snack foods, and every single one is USDA Certified Organic.
“Made with whole food” means a vitamin or supplement contains some percentage of actual plant or animal ingredients rather than lab-produced chemicals. It could be anywhere from 5% to 95% of an otherwise chemical-based product. The original plant material could also be plants grown with herbicides or pesticides and could include plants grown from GMO seeds.
“Natural” means very little when it comes to vitamins and supplements. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the term is only monitored for use with meat, poultry, and egg products. “Natural” is defined as being “minimally processed” and containing “no artificial ingredients,” among other things. However, there are no standards or regulations for the use of the term “natural” when labeling products if they do not contain meat, eggs or poultry.
We’ve worked hard to source and package the best organic whole food supplements to support you in achieving your best health and wellness and the USDA agrees.
We encourage you to visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) informative website listing all of the certifications manufacturers in the organics business are required to obtain. They also explain commonly seen logos and claims made on labels and packaging.
“Organic is a labeling term that indicates the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.”