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What do "USDA Organic," "Organic," and "Made with Organic Ingredients" Really Mean?

What do "USDA Organic," "Organic," and "Made with Organic Ingredients" Really Mean?

If you haven't been seeking out USDA Organic Certified protein powder or wellness supplements, you're not alone. While the Environmental Working Group (the EWG) ranks both vegetables ("The Dirty Dozen") and beauty products (through their "Skin Deep" database) on their safety and toxicity, there isn't a lot of accountability or education around supplements. Supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) which means they can live in a largely unregulated gray space most of the time.

The simplest way to add a layer of accountability and safety is to find a third-party validated, tested product that abides by Organic standards. But even that can be confusing. Products might be called "Organic" but not be USDA Certified organic, meaning the whole product has not been third-party validated. Or they may say "made with organic ingredients" which means it is not entirely organic, but meets a 70% criteria. 

Here's a simple cheat sheet to help you decode your label. Or, read more about how the USDA Organic label is better for the planet, too.

All ingredients and suppliers are third-party verified Organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Contains 95% or more Certified Organic ingredients.
Suppliers must abide by strict USDA Organic farming practices:
—Prohibits use of synthetic substances, fertilizers, pesticides.
—Prohibits use of genetic engineering (non-GMO).
Takes into account ecological balance and sustainability:
—Farmers must use practices that support farm resources.
—Farmers must use practices that conserve biodiversity.
—Farmers must use natural materials that support healthy soil.
—Farmers must use natural materials that support clean water. 
ORGANIC Contains organic ingredients on label.
Not third-party verified.
Contains 70% certified organic ingredients.
ALL NATURAL 🌷❤️🌈 (Your guess is as good as ours.)