Per USDA guidelines, certified organic products must contain at least 95% certified organic ingredients, excluding salt and water. Up to 5% of the ingredients may be non-organic agricultural products that aren’t commercially available as organic and/or non-agricultural products USDA’s National List. In addition, a certified organic ingredient cannot contain GMOs, and must be grown without the use of conventional pesticides, antibiotics or things like growth hormones.
You can recognize a certified organic product by its green and white (or black and white) USDA seal.
The National Organic Program (NOP), run by the USDA, regulates organic products in the food industry. Food manufacturers have to meet NOP’s standards to label their products as certified organic.
The beauty and baby product industry is a bit of a different story. The good news is that many retailers have actually raised their standards in terms of the products they’ll agree to stock. That sometimes means requiring personal care companies to comply with certain standards, like USDA’s NOP or the NSF/ANSI 305 standards set by Quality Assurance International (QAI) for personal care products. And that means more organic product options for you, the consumer.
Well, the jury’s still out on this one, but we do know that organic farming practices have to meet the following goals:
Enhance soil and water quality
Provide safe, healthy livestock habitats
Enable natural livestock behavior
Promote a self-sustaining cycle of resources on a farm
...and if we’re being honest, those all feel like (really) good things.
The bottom line: Look for quality ingredients whether you choose a certified organic product or not. If you see a USDA certified organic label, or an NSF or QAI seal, you know you’re getting a product that meets or exceeds those certification standards. But there are plenty of non-certified products out there that are great, too!