Organic Certifiers was founded in Ventura County, California in 1996 by a family team of farmers and attorneys passionate about all things organic. Organic Certifiers are dedicated to simplifying the certification process in order to help their clients in their impassioned pursuit of organic farming.
In this special Q&A with Organic Certifiers, we get the scoop on the benefits of organic foods on our bodies and the environment, as well as take an in-depth look at what goes into the certification process.
There are so many labels on food these days: free-range, natural, non-GMO, organic, etc. What exactly is organic?
The USDA organic regulations defined by the National Organic Program describe organic agriculture as “the application of a set of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” What this means is that the organic industry strives to create a sustainable environment with a focus on soil health and longevity. “Organic” is the most heavily regulated term in the food industry, which must be approved by a USDA accredited 3rd party agency, such as Organic Certifiers. Terms such as “free-range” and “natural” do not have these types of regulations.
What are the qualifications and processes for crops and livestock to be considered organic?
There are extensive regulations on both organic crop and livestock production. These can be found in detail through the USDA website. The main points to remember in terms of organic crop production is that a prohibited substance could not have been applied in the last 36 months, the farm must have proof of planting untreated, non-genetically modified seeds, and measures must be taken to prevent commingling of organic and conventional crops.
For livestock to be considered organic it must follow the following general guidelines:
-managed organically from either the third day of gestation (mammals) or the second day of life (poultry)
-animals must be allowed year-round access to the outdoors as long as weather permits
-raised on certified organic land
-fed 100% certified organic feed unless supplemented with trace minerals or vitamins to meet the animal’s nutritional requirements
-managed without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones
What are the differences between organic growers and conventional farms?
These two farms are managed very differently. For example, organic growers can only use materials allowed by the USDA National List and/or approved by a 3rd party agency for use in organic crop production whereas conventional farms do not have such strict regulations. Organic growing operations must be inspected annually by their Accredited Certifying Agent to ensure continued compliance to the organic regulations. Both the USDA and Organic Certifiers websites are great resources for additional organic information.
What are the benefits of organic farming for nutrition and for the environment?
As mentioned above, organic farming is focused on sustainability and maintaining soil health. There is abundant research on the effects of organic farming for nutrition and the environment. Many of these studies conclude that organic farming produces an all-around healthier and environmentally responsible product.
What makes Organic Certifiers unique from other certification agencies?
Our goal here at Organic Certifiers is to provide a sound and sensible approach to organic certification. We pride ourselves on customer service and creating meaningful relationships with our clients. For example, every client is assigned a certification specialist who is qualified to answer any questions or concerns regarding certification. We do everything in our power to make the process as smooth and simple as possible. We even have a position dedicated to helping new clients get through the application process. As a family-owned business, we are all personally invested in our clients’ success.
Organic Certifiers has been growing steadily for many years. What are your goals for the future?
OC has a lot of great projects in the works. We recently launched our Food Safety Certifiers division to provide several forms of food safety certification as well as combo audits for organic producers and processors. We’ve also been working on expanding our community outreach and providing classes for those interested in the world of organics. As we grow, new ideas are created and implemented often. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn to see what we’re up to!