What is Organic? We get asked this question quite a bit. There are many different factors involved when a supplier is labelled certified organic, and there are large, extensive programs around making sure that the processes and procedures around organic and held to high auditing standards.
According to Austorganic’s Organic Market Report 2012, over one million Australians regularly purchase organic food products, while 65% of consumers buy organic food on occasion. The report also notes that ‘Queensland remains with the most organic certified area of Australian states and is the state with the single most certified area of land in the world, along with the highest value of organic agricultural production’.
With all this organic growth, there is a need for a real definition for Australians to go by. This is where a general definition from the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, comes in handy.
Definition of Organic:
‘Organic’ is a labeling term that denotes products that have been produced in accordance with organic production standards and certified by a duly constituted certification body or authority.
Organic Agriculture is based on minimising the use of external inputs, avoiding the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides … methods are used to minimise pollution of air, soil and water.
Organic food handlers, processors and retailers adhere to standards to maintain the integrity of organic agriculture products. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimise the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.
In short, organic produce is grown in a way that avoids the use of unnatural chemicals and processes. Because the farmer cannot take these unnatural shortcuts that make it easier to produce food on a larger and less expensive scale, the farmer must invest in using other natural processes to ensure the production of the produce. These processes usually take much longer than conventional timing, and take a lot more patience and care for the environment.
Obtaining Organic Certification:
Becoming a certified organic grower in Australia means following a process by an approved certifier. In this case, the ACO or Australian Certified Organic Authority explains this process in detail. ACO explains that becoming a certified producer is dependent on many variables, including the development and maintenance of a whole system approach.
Organic production systems are guided by the following principles and outcomes:
- Production of naturally safe, high quality, nutritionally vital foods;
- Optimal production output, with rational and minimised use of inputs;
- Use of recycling and biological cycles within the farming system;
- Biodiversity protection and enhancement within the farm and surrounding areas;
- Regeneration of lands and soils and best environmental practice of farming activities.
Stage 1: precertification
“Precertified” products produced during the first year of converting to organic cannot bear reference to being certified organic or use a certification body’s logo. When a farmer decides to switch to organic methods there is a period of at least two years when the land and the land management undergoes a transition to organic production. After a minimum 12 month period in pre-certification, growers receive another full-scale audit (audits occur at least annually), at which time producers may achieve “In Conversion” level certification. This means that you need to apply for certification as soon as you are sure you wish to proceed. Delaying this means delays with ultimate certification. Landless systems (eg mushrooms, aquaculture etc) require two audits through an entire production cycle only prior to certification.
Stage 2: in conversion (IC)
IC requires a minimum of 12 months verified conformance with the Standard (in the past referred to as “B” grade). “In Conversion” products are those on their way to becoming fully certified organic. During this conversion period all crops are referred to as “In Conversion” and carry a stippled BUD logo. When Australian consumers purchase In Conversion product for a premium, they are recognising the additional work and costs involved in the conversion and it helps our farmers go fully organic. You may trade on the organic market as in conversion to organic.
Stage 3: certified organic (A)
Certified organic status requires a minimum prior period of three years of verified conformance with the Standard (in the past referred to as “A” grade). You may trade on the organic market as certified organic.
Hi there! We’re a natural and organic online grocer that delivers to areas in Southeast QLD. We’re all about good quality produce and products, sourced as locally as possible and delivered to your door for your convenience.
We began operations in the greater Brisbane area in 2002 as an organic milk run and the business has been growing ever since. We now deliver to over 2500 homes each week!
Our most popular service is called a Custom Box. It’s a customisable selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables, delivered free to your door on a weekly or fortnightly basis. There are no hidden fees and you can cancel anytime.
If you would like to know more about us, please follow us on our Facebook page or visit our website: www.homefreshorganics.com.au.