Organic can mean different things to different people, since organic products and principles look different according to where you live and how you perceive them.
Organic always means:
- No dangerous synthetic chemicals, pesticides or herbicides
- Made without artificial colours or preservatives
- Livestock are free to roam
- No routine use of antibiotics
- GM ingredients are prohibited
For a product to be labelled Certified Organic in Australia, it must have gone through a strict certification procedure including inspection and approval by an independent, third party certification agency. These rigorous assessments ensure that the farm, manufacturer, and final product complies and adheres to relevant standards, such as the Australian Certified Organic Standard (or ACOS for short).
These Certified Organic brands and/or companies are then audited annually to ensure they are maintaining the requirements of their certification. Additional unannounced inspections are also undertaken on random, or targeted operations, throughout the year.
Currently in Australia, there is no regulation for the term ‘organic’. Just because a product has been labelled ‘organic’ does not mean that it has been through the same rigorous assessment process as a certified organic equivalent. Due to our lack of domestic regulation, you might find products with as little as 2% organic ingredients with an organic claim on their labelling.
The only way to guarantee that your product is truly organic is to look for a certification logo such as the ‘Bud’. These organic certification marks act as a guarantee that what you’re buying is completely organic – certified to meet some of the highest product standards in the world. That’s why over 55% of organic buyers look for certification logos to check that a product is truly organic, and you should too!
Although the basic principles of certified organic and organic are the same, certified organic means so much more.
Research has shown certified organic foods can be more nutritionally dense than their non-organic counterparts and deliver more essential nutrients per calories consumed.
International studies have found certain organic fruits, vegetables and grains can contain significantly higher concentrations of health-promoting polyphenols and antioxidants – both of which have been linked to the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. Selecting organic foods also means you can avoid eating food additives and minimise your risk of exposure to pesticides in food.
Synthetic chemical and unnatural flavours, colours, preservatives and food additives are restricted or prohibited in organic food. With various food additives and chemicals linked to symptoms including allergic reactions, rashes, headaches, asthma, neurodevelopment problems, and hyperactivity in children, organic food provides a safe alternative for those concerned about their general health.
Animal welfare is a large part of why people choose certified organic products. The Australian Certified Organic Standard (ACOS) is one of few food standards which addresses the welfare of each and every animal involved in organic food and fibre production.
When consumers buy meat or animal by-products that are certified organic, they are ensured that the animals involved have been raised under some of the most stringent protection requirements in the world. Under organic standards, animals including poultry, pigs, sheep, goats and cattle, live, grow and breed naturally in group sizes appropriate to their species.
Animals interact as they would in nature, and are provided with ample access to pasture, shade and shelter. Certified organic does not allow cattle feed lots, and the battery farming of hens and pigs is prohibited. Certified organic animals are raised on food that contains no hormones, growth promotants, antibiotics, or preservatives, and are not treated with synthetic chemicals.
Certified organic food production protects our environment. Organic food is produced using sustainable farm methods that imitate natural ecological processes. Organic food production does not disrupt eco-systems with the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers which may be harmful to the environment. Food produced organically instead helps reduce the impact of chemical run-off and residues from Australian farms. These chemicals frequently find their way into water-ways, and can have adverse effects on marine, animal and plant life. Organic farming helps ameliorate climate change, and lower agricultural greenhouse gases.
Organic farming prohibits synthetic nitrogen fertilisers, which account for a high percentage (two-thirds) of all cropping emissions. Organic land also focuses on building healthy soil, which stores a high level of carbon. More carbon in our soil means less in our atmosphere. Organic farming regenerates Australian farmland. The principles of organic farming are focused on land regeneration. Organic farms can restore life to damaged soil and promote strong levels of biodiversity. Organic farmers must ensure that a percentage of their farmland is given over to natural vegetation. Organic food helps conserve water. Strong organic soils can retain higher levels of moisture, making organic farms more resilient during times of drought and climate extremes.
Organic food prohibits the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or ingredients. With relaxed GM labelling laws in Australia, selecting organic foods is one of the only ways consumers can be sure they are avoiding products containing GM substances.
Certified organic food is safe food grown and handled under a traceable system. Organic farms and food manufacturers in Australia are monitored under one of the strictest food regulatory programs in the world. Any person buying organic food endorsed with the Australian Organic ‘Bud’ logo can be assured their food has been handled with care, without use of harsh synthetic chemicals or additives, from ‘paddock to plate’.
Farms, food manufacturers and food packaging companies are subject to an audit each year to ensure standards are being upheld. In addition it takes three years before a producer can become ‘Certified Organic’. During this time the land must be farmed free from synthetic chemicals. Certified organic is a stamp of integrity designed to protect both consumers and genuine organic farmers and businesses from false claims.
While taste is certainly a matter of opinion, consumers sampling organic food are frequently heard expressing their delight at the full-tasting flavour! ‘Fresh’, ‘clean’, ‘rich in flavour’ and ‘tastes the way food used to taste’ are comments often used by those who choose to eat organic. This opinion is shared by an increasing number of high profile chefs who often state that their primary reason for choosing organic is taste.
So why choose Certified Organic?
Consumers cannot be guaranteed that a product is organic unless it displays an organic certification logo such as the Australian Organic ‘Bud’ logo. An organic certification logo protects consumers from misleading claims and is the mark of a genuine organic product which has been audited all along the production chain from paddock to plate to comply with strict organic standards.
When buying products that display the ‘Bud’ consumers are guaranteed their purchase is the real deal. An item displaying the ‘Bud’ has been produced with the health and welfare of consumers, animals and the environment in mind.
The Australian Organic ‘Bud’ logo is Australia’s most recognised organic mark, and appears on over 32,000 products. Always look for the Bud!