Today many of the products we find available on store shelves include label words like:
- All Natural
- Certified Organic
- Chemical Free
Each of the words suggests something good or wholesome, and though the words may appear to be self-explanatory there are subtleties associated with each word that may not be easily understood. As an example, to be certified organic by the USDA:
- The land that the crop is grown on must have been free of any prohibited substances for at least three years.
- The farm cannot use any genetically modified products, sewage sludge (a type of fertilizer), or irradiation.
- In most cases, a farmer must use organic seeds.
- Farmers cannot use any synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers to control pests and weeds. Instead, they must use physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When necessary, an organic farm can use certain approved biological or botanical substances for pest control.
- Farmers must keep detailed records, have an on-site inspection by an official certifying agent, and pay all the fees associated with the certification.
Did you see the “fuzzy” wording that could mean that although an item is labeled “Certified Organic” it could actually be coming from a field or farm that:
- Used banned substances as recently as three years ago. Many chemicals remain in the soil for decades.
- “in most cases…” is a way of saying “not in every case” and we are not going to say which case this particular product falls.
The terms “Organic” and “Certified Organic” also include definitions that may not be commonly known. Here is what terms related to “Organic” mean to the USDA:
- 100% Organic – Used for single-ingredient foods (such as raw fruits and vegetables) or products made from only 100 percent organic ingredients.
- Organic – Any product that is at least 95 percent organic.
- Made with Organic (Ingredient) – Any product containing at least 70 percent organic ingredients. (Up to three ingredients can be used in this label claim, such as “made with organic corn, wheat, and sugar”).
- Organic Ingredients – Any multi-ingredient product with more than 70 percent organic ingredients.
Shake-Away Animal Repellents are safe around your family and home because they do not include any harmful chemicals. As a matter of fact, the do not even harm the animals that they repel. More, Shake-Away products are listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).
Generally it is wise to be skeptical when you see “green” catch phrases on your favorite products. Taking the time to learn what each of the phrases actually means will assist you in making good buying decisions and enjoying the safety and environmental stewardship you intended.