The modern human experience is dominated with marketing of all types. We are blasted with commercial marketing of anything you can spend money on. In turn we have become increasingly sophisticated and maybe even a little cynical of most marketing claims. How do we make sense between competing marketing claims without a chemistry degree? We rely on third party certification to verify marketing claims of all sorts. The USDA Organic is a marketing term that derives its meaning by enforcing its rules on growers or manufacturers who choose to use their logo. It’s completely voluntary. The USDA Organic logo is a trademark with a heavy duty meaning.
A little background is in order; natural body care didn’t come into mainstream use until Burt’s Bees TM marketed their ‘natural’ body care products in the early 1990’s. Before long, the term ‘natural’ became so over-used that it became meaningless. Adding to that, consumers couldn’t tell the difference between ‘natural’ and conventional products by reading the ingredient panels which were filled with chemical names. In the early 2000’s ‘organic’ was a new term used for body care products which began following the same trajectory as natural with similar chemical loaded ingredient panels. But then something unintended happened.
In 2005, the USDA allowed non-food products to be certified to the food standard provided that they strictly adhere to their food rules. This was a happy accident that inadvertently led to the strictest and most meaningful body care standard anywhere, far superior to the European and Japanese organic standards. How could this happen, here in the U.S., the land of GMO and lagging environmental awareness? Here’s why: in Europe and Japan, body care and cosmetic brand owners were present when the organic standards were drafted. They insisted that specific non-food chemicals were absolutely necessary for full product lines to be developed. When the USDA drafted the food standard, body care manufacturers weren’t present. Then a few years later the standard governing body, the “National Organic Program” allowed many non-food products, including body care products to be certified to the food standard provided that they adhered to all the organic food rules.
But wait a minute. Why was natural or organic marketing terms for body care products ever invented and used in the first place? What were Burt’s customers responding to? Why were conventional products not good enough any longer? In a word, health. Most of us don’t understand the long chemical names, but we have good reason to distrust them. So many times we have seen chemicals that marketers insist are safe and even good for us, then turn out to be harmful, dangerous and even cancer causing. Think little children running along the DDT sprayer trucks in the 1950’s, and all the chemicals inflicted on us since then. Natural marketers say that their chemicals are safe. When a chemical is shown to cause some harm, the story changes to “we use such a small amount, it doesn’t matter”, use our product, it makes you look younger!
Thus, we are in a state of competing marketers saying that their chemicals are safe. This creates a kind of relativity that could spin Einstein’s head; but really, it just a lot of argument. Nothing but arguments filled with images of good looking models and loving mothers with babies.
As consumers, the few of us who are Organic Essence were instantly attracted to third party food grade certified organic because it simply steps right out of the argument. We don’t need to argue that our body care chemicals are safe since there aren’t any. What a relief. When I eat organic food and use organic products of any type, I get a particular feeling of calmness and ease that comes from knowing that I’m getting better nutrition and the absence of chemicals. I think that most people know what this feeling is if we care to connect with it.
In a word, organic is mainly about “absence”: the lack of harmful chemicals. But there is more to it than that, and the second word for organic is “immunity”. Let me explain. All organisms are competing in life. Almost all have parasites and predators because it’s a free for all in the natural world. Plants and animals have well developed immunities. For instance, the cinnamon tree and tea tree have developed strong immunities to fungus and lavender and peppermint repel bugs. Often the nutritive qualities we seek in foods are directly related to plant immunity. When plants are goosed with chemical fertilizers and protected from pests with pesticides, their immunity becomes weakened, losing the benefits we are seeking in the first place. The result of modern industrialized agricultural production is increasingly empty, bland and laced with chemical residues.
Organic body care matters. It is interesting that the first adopters of organic products are mothers with babies and cancer survivors. People who think zero is the right amount of chemical exposure their babies or they need. Zero added chemicals feel good. Fewer chemicals all down line from the farm makes our personal immunity stronger. It feels good to get out of the argument.