To understand where I fall in the realm of organic and natural products, you must understand what the different terms mean. Since I encourage everyone who attends my workshop to research the companies they are supporting, I’ll tell you exactly where I stand on the spectrum of labeling.
First, the terminology
From the USDA website, “The FDA does not define or regulate the term ‘organic,’ as it applies to cosmetics, body care, or personal care products. If a product contains ingredients that can be classified as agricultural… it may be eligible to be certified [as organic].” Here’s more that explains organic labeling requirements:
- 100% organic—the product can contain only organic ingredients. This allows for a seal to be placed on the product, and must list the certifying agency.
- Organic—the product must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. The remaining 5% of the ingredients must be non-agricultural ingredients on an approved National List, or unavailable in organic form (e.g. water, salt). These products may display the organic seal, and must have the certifying agency.
- Made with organic ingredients—the product must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, and can list up to 3 ingredients that are non-organic. These products cannot display the organic seal on their products.
- Natural—here’s where it gets tricky. A product with less than 70% organic ingredients cannot promote the product as organic. However, they can individually list ingredients as organic. These products can neither display the organic seal, nor the certifying agency’s information.
Since there is no regulation by the FDA on the term “natural,” there is no legal recourse for misrepresenting a product as natural. This hilarious video explains it well: “natural” means we find it in nature and didn’t create it in a lab; it says nothing about the toxicity of the ingredient. GMO foods such as corn is still “natural,” since it grows in nature.
Second, the organic certification process is expensive and labor intensive
Many small companies and farmers cannot afford the certification process:
- the fee for organic certification is at least $650 annually,
- there’s a .5% quarterly fee for all organic products sold,
- “possible additional fees,” for various reasons,
- an initial certification process of 3-4 months,
- a review of practices, procedures and logs constantly kept up-to-date,
- no cross-contamination with non-organic/conventional products,
And you see how difficult it is for a small business to handle certification. The certification manual is a packet about an inch thick—I used mine as scrap paper once I skimmed through it.
Therefore, I stress the importance of knowing the company and/or farmer you support. They may follow organic practices of using non-GMO ingredients, using organic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and not cross-contaminating. Still, they cannot affix a label to their goods (yours truly falls into that category).
Third, my final words on the certification process
As the owner of a small business who falls into the “radical,” “left-wing” persuasion, I understand the rationale behind the certification process. Too many companies use misleading labels on products to boost sales. There has to be a system of control to protect you, the consumer. However (and it’s a BIG however), I find the entire process to be another political agenda.
Consider Bayer-Monsanto: a company built on creating GM foods (genetically modified organisms), pesticides, seeks to monopolize the food chain. PLEASE do your own research into the dangers of GMO foods and don’t fall victim to their commercials, showing them as a compassionate company with our best interest at heart. GMO food crops will never sustain this planet. How can you sustain a planet when a crop seed can only grow once? Monsanto cares about your wallet… not you.
There’s no charge for them to genetically alter your “food,” nor is there a fine for the diseases caused by mutated genes or the required overuse of pesticides. In fact, Monsanto lobbies, sue farmers and our government, so you have no knowledge of what you’re ingesting. The sad irony is in our country, you pay top dollar to promote an organic product, when there is no fee for those risking the health of our planet.
Like our healthcare system, it’s a backward way of dealing with methods of healing.
You have my word that while Pandora’s Products and Pandora’s Lunchox will not become certified organic, I operate my businesses with organic standards.
I live my personal life as organic as possible, and pass that along through my products. When I say my products are cruelty-free, it means the suppliers of my raw materials do not test on animals, and neither do I. I don’t believe in catch-phrases such as therapeutic grade, medicinal grade, or aromatherapy grade… these are potentially misleading terms. Yes, a company may use these terms with no malice; contact them and find out if they’re organic and what their values are as a company. It may be work, but you are worth it.
My company guidelines, regarding labels and ingredients
Most of my labels list ingredients as organic, using * as an indicator. In rare instances, I use a fragrance oil or essential oil that is not organic—organic rose essential oil often costs $230 or more per ounce. Sandalwood? $150 an ounce, depending on the variation. To keep the end-product cost as low as possible, I occasionally buy conventional essential oils; they equal less than 1% of the finished product.
- I do not use the organic seal, nor do I claim there is an organic certifying agency verifying my information.
- My base ingredients (oils, waxes, emollients, and butters) are 100% organic and make up 95% of the finished product.
- I use distilled water when applicable, to increase the healing benefits of the herbs and essential oils.
That’s it. No fancy names of essential oils, no trendy words or marketing ploys. I work with Mother Nature and the many gifts she has bestowed upon our living planet. I believe in simplicity.
Feel free to contact me, should you have specific questions about my products or ingredients.