By Vina Medenilla
Organic is often used interchangeably with other concepts and terms like ‘natural farming,’ making it confusing for consumers to identify the food that they are getting. To distinguish which food is clean, fair, certified, and safe in the market, one must know what organic means.
Marco Schlüter, Head of Strategy and International affairs of Naturland, one of the leading farmer associations and certifiers for organic agriculture in the world, discussed this topic during the launch of their partnership with ECHOstore, a local store that promotes organic and sustainable products that advocates in nurturing and sustaining the self, the community, and the planet.
Making organic the norm and not the alternative
Naturland aims to connect farmers, producers, traders, and consumers from all over the world. Among Naturland’s growing worldwide community, 3,400 farmers and fishers and seven partner companies are from the Philippines. One of their recent allies is ECHOstore.
Pacita ‘Chit’ Juan, an organic advocate and founder of ECHOstore, defines organic saying that, if something isn’t grown in soil then, it is probably not organic. She adds that organic farming means producing natural food not only for humans, but also for insects and bees. Most importantly, organic means clean and fair food— clean from pesticides and harmful chemicals and fair to farmers and food producers.
At ECHOstore, they always see to it that the farm where they source their organic products does not use any pesticides and chemicals. Juan said their partnership with Naturland will help monitor if the right processes based on the standards are well-implemented.
ECHOstore will be the first shop in the Philippines where Naturland-labeled products will be available. These include Naturland-certified products like Mascobado Sugar of Alter Trade and Peter Paul’s Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO). To identify the Naturland-certified products in the Philippines, consumers must find their trademark logo and labels.
Organic means certified
Anything organic requires certification, unlike natural farming that has no clear standards and protection by a legal framework. As per Schlüter, Naturland ensures that all their farmers and products are certified and abide by their private standards that go beyond government qualifications. In getting an organic certification in the Philippines, Schlüter points out that the government requires a minimum level of organic agricultural production accompanied by yearly inspections and certification by independent control bodies.
Now more than ever, everyone is looking for safe and clean food. Today is a high time in promoting and spreading awareness about organic products and methods for they have great potential in the Philippine market and economy.