Why We Became a Certified Organic Company
The simple answer: The most important consideration in any business is its customers.
Today's world of misleading claims, false advertising, and simple deception, often leaves consumers trying to discover the truth about personal products and their ingredients.
- We want our customers to know that we are committed to transparency in everything we do.
- We want our customers to know that when we say "organic," we mean it.
- We believe that in becoming a USDA Certified Organic company, our customers do not have to wonder if we really use certified organic ingredients or if our organic products are truly organic.
- So we choose to be a certified organic company and abide by the strict standards required for organic certification.
The longer answer:
The word "organic" should stand for something more than just a marketing hype to entice consumers looking for more natural products for their family.
Unfortunately, when buying personal care products, the word "organic" has no meaning unless it is backed up with Organic Certification.
One of the greatest things about purchasing USDA certified organic skin care products is what you DO NOT get.
Buying certified organic skin care is an easy way to be sure that the product and ingredients were produced without the use of toxic pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), sewage sludge or irradiation.
If you are looking at a website that claims to be making "organic" anything, please ask if they are USDA Organic Certified!
As I walk through the body care aisles of stores I see products with company names like "Darby’s Organics." The ingredients are an unpronounceable list of chemicals most of which are not even natural, let alone organic.
These companies argue that they should be able to name their company whatever they choose, but using the word "organic" in this way is not only misleading, it is just plain unethical. Read more about Misleading Labels
These companies are not selling "organic" products,
they are simply selling the word "organic."
The word "organic" should stand for something more than just a marketing hype to entice consumers looking for more natural products for their family. Buying a skin care product labeled “organic” should indicate that the product is made with agricultural ingredients produced without genetically modified organisms (GMOs), hormones, pesticides, artificial fertilizers or other synthetic additives.
But "organic" means even more than that. Organic farming practices improve the quality of our environment by protecting our land and groundwater from contamination and by promoting the use of sustainable resources and the conservation of soil and water.
Also, don't forget about the environmental impact of the commercial skin care products themselves. What happens when the synthetic chemical ingredients go down the drain? How do they affect our water supply and local ecosystems?
Some Companies Claim To Use Organic Ingredients
There are many non-certified companies that claim to make products with certified organic ingredients. They often add little notes or *asterisks with words like "grown organically." But what does that even mean? How does the consumer know? This type of labeling is misleading for those who respect the true meaning of "certified organic" and want to buy genuine "organic" skin care.
Without USDA Certification, where is the proof that companies are truly using USDA Certified Organic ingredients? There is NONE!
- I have seen companies claim to use an "organic" ingredient that I know is not even available as organic.
- I have seen companies that claim to use a "certified organic" ingredient that I know is so expensive that they could not be selling the product for the price listed without losing money.
- I have seen companies label a product "organic" that contains an ingredient that I know is not even allowed under USDA rules.
Some Companies Say That USDA Certification Is Not Perfect
There are companies that write lengthy explanations as to why they choose not to obtain organic certification. I have no problem with a company that decides not to become certified, but their explanations often contain a lot of misinformation and negative comments about USDA certification.
Is the certification process perfect? Absolutely not! Is the USDA perfect? Show me any government agency that is.
When I was a teacher there were minimum standards, set by our state, that had to be met for my students. Did I teach only to those minimum standards? Absolutely not! I saw them as guidelines from which to grow and develop a rigorous curriculum that would engage and challenge each student to reach her or his maximum potential. If you believe in what you do, the minimum is never enough. Our USDA Organic Certification is our minimum standard.
Some Companies Say That Certification Is Costly And Difficult
I agree that the process of certification does cost money, but the application cost is based on the amount of sales of organic products and is quite reasonable for a small company. Organic ingredients are more costly and the amount of record-keeping and paperwork needed does require time--and time is money.
Some will tell you that the certification process is difficult and there are some rules that just do not make sense for the personal care industry. To be honest, they are right! But we believe that . . .
- choosing to obtain organic certification is reflective of a company’s commitment to real transparency and accountability
- choosing to obtain organic certification is reflective of a company’s commitment to organic
- most of all, choosing to obtain organic certification is reflective of a company’s commitment to its customers
- buying products that have been certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent is the only way you can be sure a company's organic product truly complies with organic standards.
Choosing To Become A Certified Organic Skin Care Company
Although we made the decision to become a Certified Organic company in 2010, long before that we chose to use many certified organic ingredients in our products. For example, it did not make sense to make all-natural products with herbs and flowers that were sprayed with pesticides, irradiated, and fumigated. Since botanicals are not processed, these chemicals remain on the leaves, flowers, and fruits.
Our herbal salves were our first completely organic product. As we began purchasing more and more certified organic ingredients, developing new organic recipes, and converting old recipes, we knew it was time for greater accountability and assurance to our customers.
We decided to become a certified organic manufacturer because we believe in the true meaning of organic. This standard is an integral part of our company, our way of life and our personal and professional values.
Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve is certified by a USDA accredited certifying agency, OEFFA (The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association), to assure the organic ingredients and manufacturing processes in our organic products follow the USDA’s guidelines. The OEFFA is a grassroots organization, dedicated to promoting and supporting sustainable, ecological, and healthful agricultural systems.
For those who may not know what’s involved, USDA certification not only certifies the ingredients that go into each product, but also the manufacturing process, the equipment, the products used to clean the manufacturing equipment and facility, the labeling accuracy, the packaging, and the suppliers.
- submit an application
- pay the fees
- provide a “handler organic plan” describing all of the safeguards to ensure proper handling of organic material and proper cleaning of all equipment (even the type of cleaning solutions we use are monitored)
- provide the organic certificates from each of our suppliers for each organic ingredient used in each of our organic products
- provide a map of our facility depicting the location of all preparation areas and storage areas for organic raw materials as well as the finished products. Organic certification is not only based on compliance with NOP (National Organic Program) standards, but on the ability to uphold those standards.
- provide a quality assurance plan that includes ongoing education for our employees
- provide extensive record-keeping plans and logs, that are audited each year, to keep track of the organic ingredients in every product we make that guarantees the organic integrity of the product through continuous traceability, from receipt of the raw material to release of the product.
- provide written annual production plans
After the application is reviewed a USDA accredited inspector will visit. The inspector will randomly choose a sampling of products off of our shelves and we must be able to demonstrate the following . . .
- The labeling complies with the USDA guidelines.
- The preparation, storage, and packaging, which is charted from ingredients to finished product, comply with USDA guidelines.
- Our organic product output matches our organic ingredient intake. For example, if the inspector chooses our organic Sea Buckthorn Salve, we are required to show how many tins we have sold in a given year. If we sold 200 tins, we must be able to show a flow chart that includes . . .
- the date, recipe, and batch number for each batch made
- the lot numbers of all organic ingredients used
- the amount of each ingredient used in the recipe
- the matching invoices for each ingredient with lot numbers to show that we indeed purchased all the certified organic ingredients needed to make the 200 tins of organic salve
- This guarantees the organic integrity of the product through continuous traceability, from receipt of the raw material to sale of the product.
This entire process is required and repeated every year to assure consistent compliance!
- To provide assurance and a commitment to our customers that we use the word “organic” to properly describe our products.
- We work hard to obtain yearly certification and are very proud to use the words “certified organic” to indicate products made with ingredients that are pure, natural and free from hormones, pesticides, artificial fertilizers, GMOs, or other synthetic additives.
- Organic certification is the only way you can be sure a company's product truly complies with organic standards.
- Pursuing yearly organic certification requires us to take an extensive look into the procedures and practices of our company. It is a constant reminder of our commitment to our customers to continually maintain our vigilance.
Why Aren't All Of Our Products Certified Organic?
Over the past few years, we added more and more certified organic products to our line. For some products, we simply changed from conventional to certified organic ingredients. For other products, we tweaked the formulations in order to substitute an organic ingredient for
Some of my favorite products are made with ingredients that just do not exist as certified organic. Why? At this time there are no standards created for ingredients specifically used in the personal care product industry. Organic certification of personal care products is based on the organic food standards set by the National Organic Program of the USDA.
There are many ingredients, like cocoa butter, that are used in both the food and the cosmetic industry, so organic cocoa butter is readily available. But since some "cosmetic" ingredients, like illipe and kokum butters, are not used in food, there has been little demand for these raw materials to become certified organic.
But since we are a certified organic company, we are required to submit documentation that even our "non-organic ingredients" were produced without the use of toxic pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), sewage sludge or irradiation.
We purchase all of our ingredients from reputable suppliers who routinely test their raw materials to ensure purity.