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What Nova Scotia Organics wants you to know about organic certifications

From President & Founder, Nancy Smithers

Know what you’re buying in Organics

One of most exciting aspects of running a USDA Certified Organic Vitamin, Mineral, Supplement and Snack Food business is to watch the exponential increases reported in the consumption of organic foods, even in purchases of organic health and beauty products and house cleaners. I’m also a common sense sort of person, and believe wholeheartedly in western medicine, a good French fry now and then and not obsessing about what I can’t control.

But for many years now –for decades, really– I have been educated to understand some of the dangers inherent in our food supply, from heavily processed foods, and in the increasing burdens we’ve placed on third parties to monitor what goes into our bodies for us. I do believe that ultimately it is up to each of us to make smart choices for ourselves, and our families.

I am hopeful that the medical community and leaders in the health and wellness fields are making headway in alerting us all to the ill effects of herbicides and pesticides, the processing approaches that change the molecular makeup of our food, the storage treatments that destroy much of the actual nutrition, and other damaging practices that take us further away from our best health and wellness. Having spent over 20 years manufacturing the highest quality certified organic Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements and Snack Foods I can create, it pleases me immensely to see more of us become active ‘health seekers’ and demanding to understand where our bodies’ fuel comes from.

Unsurprisingly, as health and wellness becomes more top of mind, marketers have tackled the various claims with zeal. Natural! Made with whole food! GMO-free! Organic! Made with Organic Ingredients! Certified Organic! USDA Certified Organic! Good grief.

How is one to know what these terms mean, and how organic is…well, organic?

Consistent with how we approach just about everything here at Nova Scotia OrganicsTM, we’d like to share a simple common sense guide to understanding the claims you may see on the labels, advertising and packaging, specifically of vitamins and supplements.

“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 labeling of ‘natural’ products if they do not contain meat, eggs or poultry. When applied to vitamins or supplements, the term ‘natural’ can mean just about anything and it’s no longer a term used at Nova Scotia Organics for that reason.

Interestingly, many companies are quietly discontinuing the use of “natural” in their product names, packaging and labeling as consumers are growing more and more skeptical about the often misleading meaning, and brands risk losing consumer trust.

“Made with whole food” means a vitamin or supplement contains some percentage of actual plant or animal ingredients rather than lab-produced chemicals; however, the “whole food” could be 5% or 95% of an otherwise chemical-based product and these whole foods could also be plants grown with herbicides or pesticides –or both—and they could include plants grown from GMO seeds. At Nova Scotia Organics, when we say “made with whole foods”, we mean it; our Greens Superfood  product is made with 99.83% whole foods, for example.

“Made with organic ingredients” means just that. To remain on the good side of the USDA, products making this claim at least 70% of the ingredients in the vitamin or supplement 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 multi-ingredient 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.

“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. At Nova Scotia Organics, we are pleased to offer Vitamins, Minerals, multi-ingredient Supplements, and snack foods, and every single one is “USDA Certified Organic” or “100% USDA Certified Organic.”

We’ve worked hard to source and package the very purest ingredients to support our bodies in achieving their best health and wellness. And apparently, the USDA agrees. We hope you do, too.

It’s your body. Run it well.TM


We encourage you to visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) very informative website listing all of the certifications manufacturers in the organics business are required to obtain, and giving further clarity to many of the most 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.”

Source: USDA National Organic Program

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