Organic certification verifies that a farm or handling facility complies with the USDA organic regulations which describe the specific standards required for the use of the word “organic” or the USDA organic seal on food, feed, or fiber products. USDA organic regulations apply to four categories of organic products: crops, livestock, processed products and wild crops.
Overall, organic operations must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances. This includes maintaining or enhancing soil and water quality; conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife; and avoiding use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering.
Continuous Quality Improvement
Continuous quality improvement (CQI) describes an approach to quality management that involves an ongoing effort to improve products, services and processes. CQI builds on traditional quality assurance methods, is processed focused, and promotes the need for objective data to analyze, evaluate and improve processes.
A product that contains an ingredient or ingredients intended to add nutritional value to (that is, supplement) the diet. This includes one or a combination of any of the following: vitamin, mineral, herb or other botanical, amino acid, a dietary substance used to increase the total dietary intake (e.g., nutrition shakes), or a concentrate, metabolite, constituent or extract. Dietary supplements come in a variety of forms including tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids and powders. Taking dietary supplements helps you ensure you are getting adequate dietary intake of essential nutrients and can help you reduce your risk of disease.
Any [nourishing and] nutritious substance you eat, drink or otherwise take into the body – typically largely consisting of protein, carbohydrate and fat – to sustain vital processes, support growth and repair, and furnish energy. Also defined as such food together with supplementary substances such as vitamins and minerals.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
A genetically modified organism, commonly called a GMO, is an organism whose genetic material (genome) has been altered by genetic engineering techniques so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there. The foreign gene(s) may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals, or humans, or can be made synthetically in a lab.
The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is prohibited in organic products. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances from farm to table. This means, for example, an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients.
Grass-fed animals are allowed to forage and graze for their own fresh food. The American Grassfed Association sets standards for meat and dairy that focus on four main areas: diet – animals are fed only grass and forage from weaning until harvest; confinement – animals are raised on pasture without confinement to feedlots; antibiotics and hormones – animals are never treated with antibiotics or growth hormones; and origin – all animals are born and raised on American family farms.
AGA-certified producers use the highest standards of animal husbandry in their grazing programs to support humane treatment and welfare of their animals, and they employ a sustainable approach to farm/ranch management designed to enhance land, water, and air quality. AGA-certified producers are audited every year by independent third parties to ensure continuing compliance with the standards. Only AGA-certified members are permitted to use the AGA logo or trademark on their packaging and marketing materials.
Glyphosate is the most frequently used herbicide worldwide. Glyphosate-based pesticides, such as Roundup, are used in agriculture and horticulture as a crop desiccant and to combat weeds that compete with cultivated crops. There are over 750 products containing glyphosate for sale in the U.S. Wheat, oats, edible beans and potatoes are among the crops that are sprayed with glyphosate just before harvest in a process known as desiccating, which helps dry out grain crops and accelerate the harvest timeline.
In early June 2017, the FDA resumed its first-ever endeavor to evaluate how much of the controversial chemical is making its way into the food supply. According to various reports, glyphosate has been detected in farm animals, drinking water, breast milk and human blood and urine samples. In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “a probable human carcinogen.” U.S. regulatory bodies have asserted the research documentation is insufficient to support the WHO agency’s claim. In June 2016, the European Union tabled a vote on whether to renew a 15-year market license for glyphosate use amid growing opposition, granting an extension for its use through 2017.
Broadly defined as any substance produced by a living organism, natural products include natural and organic foods, dietary supplements, and personal and home care items formulated with minimal to no artificial ingredients and minimal to no processing. However, there is no federal standard, regulation or law defining natural for food, dietary supplements or personal care items. Essentially used as a marketing term, O&N has confirmed that more than one-third of consumers believe the terms organic and natural to be equivalent, and two-thirds of the population believe natural foods to be free from synthetic additives.
Nutrients are food or biochemical substances that provide building materials and energy essential for the maintenance of life and growth. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats, which you need in large amounts and are used for structure and energy, are called macronutrients. Micronutrients, which include vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals and antioxidants, are needed in minute amounts so your body can function properly. Micronutrients are most often found in vegetables and fruits, and it’s deficiencies in micronutrients that are linked to most diseases and conditions. Humans get their nutrients from what they eat, while plants primarily get their nutrients from the soil.
Nutrient Field Trial
Nutrient field trials are high-powered observational studies carefully and rigorously designed, conducted and evaluated to demonstrate correlations between nutrients and health outcomes while taking into consideration the multiple actions and interactions of nutrients. The trials involve large numbers of subjects in order to provide high statistical significance with the outcomes and move the research into practice quickly and with a high level of confidence.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are valuable and important. However, many RCTs involving nutrients are designed like drug trials, attempting to focus on one nutrient and looking at a single interaction. Nutrients, however, don’t act alone. They act in combination with other nutrients and have synergistic effects. While both RCTs and observational studies offer valuable contributions to the body of knowledge on nutrition, observational studies such as nutrient field trials are the backbone of nutritional research.
Nutrient field trials, such as the vitamin D and omega-3 index studies you can participate in through NutrientPower, are playing a significant role in advancing research to redefine the delivery of health care towards a preventative health and wellness-oriented model.
Regenerative agriculture, as defined by the Organic Consumers Association, encompasses the traditional and indigenous best practices of organic farming, animal husbandry and environmental conservation. It is an approach that revitalizes the soil and the environment now and in the future by protecting and regenerating topsoil capable of producing high quality, nutrient-dense food and enhancing biodiversity. Regenerative agricultural incorporates permaculture and organic farming practices, and leads to productive farms, health communities and healthy economies. While regenerative foods are grown using organic principles, it is important to note that not all organic food is regenerative.
According to the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative and The Carbon Underground, "regenerative agricultural practices: (1) contribute to generating/building soils and soil fertility and health, (2) increase water percolation, water retention, and clean and safe water runoff; (3) increase biodiversity and ecosystem health and resiliency, and (4) invert the carbon emissions of our current agriculture to one of remarkably significant carbon sequestration thereby cleansing the atmosphere of legacy levels of CO2.”
The result is cleaner food contributing to better human health, thriving local wildlands with a healthy population of wildlife and beneficial birds and insects to help control insects and other pests, and less pollution of watersheds from local farm lands.
Regenerative systems use processes that restore, renew and/or revitalize their own sources of energy and materials. Whereas sustainable development seeks to satisfy human needs today without compromising the possibility of future generations to satisfy their needs, lost ecological systems aren’t recovered. In a regenerative system, the needs of human society are integrated with the needs of other species and the overall integrity of nature. In short, regenerative systems create a better world, now and in the future.
A supply chain is the entire network of entities (organizations, people, activities, information and resources) involved, either directly or indirectly, with serving a given customer or consumer. It includes raw materials suppliers, producers/manufacturers who convert raw material into product, the warehouses that store (both the raw materials and) the product, the distribution centers that deliver the product to retailers, and the retailers who bring the product to the user – that is, the customer or consumer.
Over the past few decades, many companies and brands are adopting codes of conduct and integrating guidelines and standards to demonstrate ethical practices and create more traceable supply chains. These changes are driven by concerns about environmental sustainability, food safety, productivity, quality and social concerns including child labor and the humane treatment of animals.
Offers the ability to track and verify the history, location and/or application of an item or an activity by means of recorded data and/or an audit trail.
Describes a way of operating so that it’s easy for others to see what actions are performed. Transparent business practices are characterized by intentional openness, visibility, communication and accountability.