What it REALLY Takes to be Organic

It’s that time of the year again. Oh sure, you’re probably thinking I reference cheerful, festive preparations with tinsels and bows, lights and carols. But no, it’s time for Earth Mama’s annual organic inspection, and believe me, the process is no holiday. With so many companies blithely tossing around the “O” word, we think it’s important to show what being a certified organic manufacturing company really entails. Welcome to the Annual Organic Inspection!

The purpose of an organic inspection is to have an objective third party examine a manufacturer’s facility. An independent inspector is hired by Quality Assurance International, Earth Mama’s certifier. Together they tell you if your processes are compliant with the USDA NOP and NSF organic standards. But not to tell you HOW to comply with them. Translation – while our inspector, John was fantastic, he can’t “consult” with you. That means he is happy to tell you if you’re doing something wrong, but he can’t tell you exactly how to do it right. You’re on your own for that.

There are a plethora of hoops, and we have to jump through them all. Certified organic facilities are required to prove that all raw materials are stored in a dedicated organic place, and not contaminated by non-organic raw materials, pesticides, cleaning products or other contaminants. Laboratory SOPs are examined. In/Out audits performed and trace-back paper trails are evaluated. There are Certificates of Analysis, Organic Compliance Plans and Material Safety Data Sheets to supply. Pest control clipboards, quadrant checks, cleaning schedules and more. QC history, receiving logs and lab sample archives, oh my!

A random box of tea is plucked merrily from the shelf and processing from raw material to production to shipping is documented every step of the way. And to assure that customers know exactly what they are buying, all product labels are inspected for language of organic claims.

And as the dusk settles over the land, and people leave the building for home, Mr. Inspector is juuuuust wrapping things up.  The piles of papers have been refiled, the notebooks back on the shelves. After weeks of rescheduling, hours of scrutiny, and another year of making sure everything is right with our organic world, Earth Mama is once again awarded the grand prize: the coveted Organic Certificate of Compliance.

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Peace, Love and Information for All!

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