Organic, Natural, Non-GMO, Fair Trade… Oh My!
There are so many buzzwords out there, how does anyone know what is what? Some companies tout ORGANIC products, others shout to the skies about using FAIR TRADE ingredients. What do you need to know about these words, and how does it affect you?
First off, lets establish a few definitions…
Organic is a term regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for food products. In order to be labeled organic, there is a strict inspection process that must be completed. When referring to cosmetics, soaps, lotions, lip balms, etc., organic is a little more difficult to understand. Cosmetics are under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for labeling and production, but the organic label adds another level of regulation including the USDA. There are several levels of organic certification which allows producers to include the organic label on the front of the product. For producers not certifying, or with less than 70% organic ingredients, individual ingredients may be listed as organic on the ingredient panel.
Natural is not a regulated term in any way. Products may list this even if they are not what the common person would consider natural, so read the ingredient list carefully. It is a very subjective tag. Many ingredients may not seem natural (sodium hydroxide) but are essential to the soap making process and are made from natural ingredients. Knowing your ingredients and doing a little research will save you here!
Non-GMO (genetically-modified organisms) labeling became very popular after the public found out that plants were being modified in labs specifically for pesticide resistance, enhanced protein content, and other things. Some believe this has caused much of our increase in food allergies over the last 20 years. The non-GMO Project (a nongovernmental agency) is the only third-party verification available in the US to confirm crops and products to be non-GMO, but there is no governmental regulation on this label.
Fair trade certification ensures the base ingredients are produces conforming to specific social, environmental, and economic standards. It includes safe work conditions, protecting the environment with sustainable methods, and empowering and uplifting communities. Fair trade ingredients benefit the producers and the consumers.
Now, how does this affect you? That’s the big question, right? According to the FDA, an organic labeling does not mean the product is any safer for you. You can find information regaling the benefits of natural products and better living through pharmaceuticals (or chemicals). All this info means you need to pay attention to labels (especially ingredients). Determine what is truly important to you as a consumer and follow your heart. Stay true to your ideals and purchase products you can believe in!
Personally, I try to stay as natural and fair trade as possible in all parts of my life. There are times I must use other things, but I truly believe the chemicals are not as good for my family as things the way they were produced by nature. And it seems Fair Trade is just a nice way to be a good human, helping other humans and the earth!
At Sheridan Soap Company, we use organic, non-GMO, and fair trade ingredients when available, which, I hope, helps alleviate any of your worries!