What does organic mean? The USDA states that the goal of organic foods and organic farming is to "integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity."
Put simply, if you see the "USDA Organic" or "Certified Organic" seal on your food or other products the item must have an ingredients list and the contents should be 95% or more certified organic. This means the product must be free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and must not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering, according to the USDA. The remaining 5% of ingredients must be on the approved list.
There are a few main reasons why people are making the change to go organic. It’s healthier for you and your family (Including your pets), better for the environment and the climate, more humane treatment of animals and helps the economy.
How Is It Healthier for You, Your Family and Your Pets?
Choosing organic is healthier. When you choose organic you are choosing non-toxic products. Many of us are accustomed to reading food labels by now and understand that certain chemicals in food can be hazardous to our health, but what about reading the labels of your health & beauty products, cleaning products, clothes, pet products etc. To give you an example we have listed some toxins below that are found in products we use everyday.
GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
This method helps farmers grow better crops faster, which means more for us at a cheaper cost. In fact up to 80% of processed foods in the U.S. are genetically modified. Unless you eat fresh, unprocessed foods that are marked as non-GMO or certified organic, you’re probably eating food that has been genetically modified. It doesn’t stop with food though.
GMOs are everywhere, even where you least expect them. Did you feed your dog today? Well, chances are that food contained some GMO ingredients. Is the shirt your wearing made out of cotton, how about the towel you used after your shower? If so you have exposed yourself to GMOs unknowingly. 94 percent of US cotton is genetically modified and we absorb more than 60% of what our skin comes in contact with.
Why should you avoid GMOs? The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. Human studies show how GMOs can leave material behind inside us, possibly causing long-term problems. Genes inserted into genetically modified soy, for example, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and that the toxic insecticide produced by genetically modified corn was found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses. Learn more about GMOs here.
More than 95 percent of the chemicals in artificial fragrances are known toxins which can lead to a compromised immune function, allergic reactions and neurotoxicity - some of which are cited on the EPA’s hazardous waste list. Unfortunately, manufacturers can legally hide hundreds of synthetic chemicals in the one word—"fragrance" without revealing what those ingredients are. This is referred to as a “trade secret” in the industry, a major loophole in the law.
Where can you find fragrance lurking? You can find it in personal care products for men, women and even in your pet’s personal care products, as well as home cleaning products. Any product with the ingredient “fragrance” should be avoided. It commonly shows up in perfumes and colognes, lotions, baby wipes, air fresheners, candles, dryer sheets and detergents.
Phthalates is a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products to increase flexibility and softness of plastics, it also works as a solvent in fragrances found in personal care products and cosmetics. Phthalates are found in everything from toys and clothes to paints, cosmetics, personal care products, and electronics. Because of this we are all are ingesting, inhaling, and absorbing through our skin a significant phthalate load -- which quickly moves to our bloodstream.
Why should you be worried? Researchers have linked phthalates to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame-retardant chemicals that are added to plastics and foam products to make them difficult to burn. It can be found in Polyurethane foam padding in furniture, carpet padding, some electronics and children’s and pet products. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) advises opting for products that haven’t been treated with brominated fire retardants and choosing less-flammable materials.
Many of the known health effects of PBDEs are thought to stem from their ability to disrupt the body's thyroid hormone balance, by depressing levels of the T3 and T4 hormones, which are important to normal metabolism. In adults, hypothyroidism can cause fatigue, depression, anxiety, unexplained weight gain, hair loss and low libido. This can lead to more serious problems if left untreated, but the consequences of depressed thyroid hormone levels on developing fetuses and infants can be devastating.
Unfortunately the list of toxins found in every day products is much longer than the four examples we gave. It’s no surprise people are choosing to go organic and put their health, their families health and the health of their pets first. (Later in this article we go over the importance of reading labels) Learn more about choosing non-toxic at www.ew.org
Better for Our Environment & Climate
There is more awareness and concern for how we treat the environment. As we become more educated about how conventional farming methods destroy top soil and pollute our waters, etc., it is only natural to want to buy organically grown food. Sustainable agricultural methods avoid the unnecessary pollution caused by chemical fertilizers and pesticides, that not only harm us, but the environment.
In many agriculture areas, pollution of groundwater courses with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is a major problem. As the use of these is prohibited in organic agriculture, they are replaced by organic fertilizers (e.g. compost, animal manure, green manure) and through the use of greater biodiversity (in terms of species cultivated and permanent vegetation), enhancing soil structure and water infiltration. Well managed organic systems with better nutrient retentive abilities, greatly reduce the risk of groundwater pollution.
Organic agriculture reduces non-renewable energy use by decreasing agrochemical needs. Organic agriculture contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming through its ability to sequester carbon in the soil. Many management practices used by organic agriculture increase the return of carbon to the soil, raising productivity and favoring carbon storage. Organic farming requires half as much energy, contributes far fewer greenhouse gasses, and is more resilient in the face of climate disruption.
Buy shopping your local farmer’s market means that the food you are eating comes from nearby, and does not require us to waste lots of energy and petroleum to ship the food halfway around the world. Eating food in your own environment, where it has perfectly-created nutrients for your specific climate and region helps support the environment by reducing the usage of fossil fuels.
Going beyond food, for example; conventional beauty products utilize petroleum-based ingredients and usually rely on a host of other chemicals for their production process. These compounds are typically harsh substances, like petroleum, aluminum, and lead, all of which require extensive mining. Much of this is done in some of the world’s most beautiful and sensitive areas, like the Amazon rainforest, and miles of land are destroyed and stripped of vital wildlife every year. In fact, the most common personal care products of all–antiperspirants–utilize aluminum. Aluminum mining is responsible for the destruction of wide swaths of rainforests in South America.
What about other products? Look at cotton, often referred to as “the fabric of our lives”. All of us come into contact with items made from cotton every single day. From the clothes you wear, the sheets you sleep on, the diapers you put on your baby even some of the food we eat have all been made with cotton. Growing conventional cotton requires the use of enormous amounts of pesticides, which has a huge environmental impact and presents health risks for those working around it.
It may cost a little more, but it’s better for our planet, the workers and your well-being to choose organic whenever possible.
A More Humane Treatment of Animals
The National Organic Program (NOP) has regulations in regard to animal welfare, with clearly defined rules for livestock health-care practices (§205.238) and living conditions for animals (§205.239). Every certified organic dairy farm has an Organic Systems Plan, in which animal-welfare regulations are addressed.
The welfare of animals is the top priority for organic farmers. By law, organic farmers are required to raise animals without the use of antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones, and they must provide animals with 100% organic feed and safe, clean, cage-free living conditions.
Organic farmers must provide their animals with access to the outdoors and pasture so that they can freely roam about. In fact, organic standards require that cows graze on rich, nutritious grass for a minimum of one third of their lives. The result: healthy, happy animals that are encouraged to exhibit the behaviors nature intended and less exposure to the chemicals that you and your family wish to avoid.
When it comes to organic products such as personal care, although many organic products are “cruelty-free” or can be “100% vegan”, you can’t assume “organic” means animal friendly. Many organic companies make the commitment to not test on animals or to be 100% vegan, and they will let you know right on the label. As a consumer, if animal welfare is a concern for you, you must educate yourself when purchasing products; this means reading labels and doing a little research on the company. Here are some great animal-friendly shopping tips from The Humane Society.
Good for the Economy
Growing local organic food may be the best path toward economic recovery. It may also be key to building stronger and healthier communities. Community-based agriculture has the potential for creating jobs, developing small business entrepreneurships and keeping precious dollars in the community.
No Chemicals = More Labor
Industrial agriculture has replaced human hands with machines and chemicals. According to the EPA, in the last century agricultural labor efficiency increased from 27.5 acres/worker to 740 acres/worker. Joel Salatin, organic farmer and author of best-selling books on sustainable farming, views these statistics as another reason for us to return to our farming roots. “People say our system can’t feed the world, but they’re absolutely wrong,” he says, “Yes, it will take more hands, but we’ve got plenty of them around.”
As it becomes increasingly more important to consumers to improve both their own health, as well as that of the environment, Natural and Organic household and home care products including; surface cleaners, laundry and dish cleaners, pet food, linens and fibers are becoming more in demand by consumers who are interested in their health and well-being. Resulting in massive growth in job opportunities.
Cut Health Care Costs
Organic produce and meat is higher priced than non-organic counterparts. But, according to Joel Salatin, we get what we pay for. “We spend around 10% of our income on food and some 16% on health care, and it used to be the reverse.”
And, what you eat isn’t the only thing that affects your health. We have already discussed earlier in detail the toxins that are lurking in your everyday products. These harmful chemicals can be making you sick. By practicing a healthy lifestyle an individual may reduce the number of trips needed to go see the doctor because of an illness, avoiding the co-payments which come with those office visits, as well as the cost of medications prescribed to help you get better.
Organic is More Sustainable
We need to promote organic systems which respect the integrity of soil health and sustainable systems. Until recently it was thought that our national and global food needs were too big to be met with natural, organic food production systems. Recent studies confirm, however, that organic farming is the way of the future.
Rodale Institute’s Farming System Trial has compared organic to conventional farming, side by side, for over 33 years. What they was that, in the long term, the yields are the same with organic performing 33 percent higher in years of drought. Looking only at yields, this means that organic can feed the world just as effectively as conventional. Looking beyond the singular issue of yields, it becomes clear that regenerative organic farming is indeed the only way to feed the world in a way that encourages global health, and especially economic equality.
While organic farmers depend upon the resources found on their own farms, conventional farming depends heavily on ‘external inputs,’ which are items that need to be purchased from somewhere off of the farm such as fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and more. These products are manufactured and then transported to the farmer – creating pollution and increasing the costs of doing business for the farmer. Increasingly dependent on a system of external inputs, farmers find themselves paying more and more for their inputs, eating away at their profits.
Rather than using synthetic fertilizers, organic farmers build the health of the soil using compost, crop rotations, cover crops and reduced tillage. Using biology rather than chemistry, organic farmers mimic natural systems to promote healthy soil as the foundation for healthy food and, ultimately, healthy people.
In general organic products are sustainable products and have fueled the growth of naturally derived products. The manufacturing of organic or naturally derived products aids in reducing pollution by consuming natural resources and reducing reliance on petroleum based products.
It is said that the average American will use 9 products, from personal care, food, to cleaning products, which contain over 126 different ingredients every day, and usually won’t think twice about it. BUT as you can see from what you have read above, we absolutely should.
We know more than 20 percent of personal care products contain chemicals that may contribute to cancer, and four out of five of their ingredients are typically contaminated with toxic byproducts. Unfortunately, with minimal regulations it becomes an individual responsibility to educate ourselves by learning how to read labels and what to look for.
Read the ingredients. Manufactures must list what is inside, although there are some loopholes; ‘Trade Secrets’ - which include fragrance formulas. The fewer ingredients you see and the more you can pronounce and understand what it is, the safer the product is likely to be.
If you see ‘fragrance’ listed just put it back on the shelf. That one word may be composed of hundreds of chemicals and many of them are toxic, but manufactures are only required to list ‘fragrance’. Learn more here.
Ingredients on the label are listed in order of their concentration by weight. Choosing products with nontoxic ingredients listed first will minimize exposure, but ultimately you want to avoid toxic ingredients whenever possible. Need a little help? Check out Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database or Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry’s Toxic Substances Portal.
Ignore meaningless terms like “Natural”, “Botanical” even “Organic”. They have no legal definition and can mean just anything. Instead look for labels and certifications, backing up claims of being “Organic” or “Natural”.
What Labels to Look For:
The USDA Organic label
If you see this label you can be sure the product is at least 95% organic and the other 5% of remaining ingredients may not have been made organically, but are on the approved NOP (National Organic Program) list. Learn more about labeling organic products here.
Products with this label keep both the environment and human safety in mind. They are non-toxic, use sustainable grown or raised ingredients without the use of toxic pesticides or herbicides and are produced in ways that do not deplete the ecosystem.
Products with this label surpass federal guidelines for human use. That translates into products that are safer and more natural than most commercial brands.
The only way to be 100% certain a company is cruelty-free is to buy products from companies that have been certified by the Leaping Bunny Program, which requires that no new animal testing be used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or ingredient suppliers.
Made In The USA
The made in the USA mark is a country or origin label indicating the product is “all or virtually all” made in the United States. When you buy American made you support our economy. When you buy U.S.-made products, the proceeds remain in the U.S. economy. The money you spend then pays the workers that directly or indirectly created the product you purchased. When workers spend their money on U.S.-made products, the dollars continue to be recycled.
When you buy American made you support the environment. American manufacturers abide by strict regulations to protect the environment. These regulations do not exist in most of the top countries manufacturing and importing their goods into the U.S. causing massive pollution and environmental abuse.
When you buy American made you support human rights. Importing countries have little or non-existent regulations or standards for working conditions. By keeping our dollars in the U.S., we are not supporting these horrible working conditions (long hours, exploitation of children, extremely low wages, etc.).
Pura Naturals Pet™ is dedicated to delivering the highest quality products using only the best ingredients the Earth has to offer. Our philosophy is simple - we strive every day to be better. Better than we were the day before and better than every other product out there. Our scientists, engineers, and product development team work tirelessly each day to find better ingredients, use renewable and earth friendly sources, create more effective formulas, and develop innovative products. Our passion is the health and happiness of our 4-legged family members. All of our products are made in the USA, cruelty free, tested on humans, non-toxic and made with human grade ingredients (most even food grade). This passion and philosophy flow through everything we do making it easy to put your pet’s health first.