If the farmers, distributors, handlers and producers all keep the integrity of the organic certification the product can become certified organic. If one piece of the chain is broken the certification for the end producer is no longer possible for that product. This is why it is so important for the producer to have a certification. As an example, a Certified Organic coffee roaster like ourselves sees lots and lots of bags with organic stamped all over them.
If, let’s say a distribution warehouse lost their certification for any number of reasons, contamination, flooding, pesticide use you get the idea. Those sacs are still emblazoned with Organic Logos all over them from the origin country, but they are no longer organic. This is why when an uncertified roaster holds up a bag with the organic stamp from origin saying “see it’s organic” is false. It WAS organic. If the roaster does not carry a third party certification then what they did at origin is irrelevant. The chain has been broken. It’s the inspector’s job to ensure the integrity of the organic chain has held until it reaches the consumer.
Why Producers Lie
I said it , it’s a bit harsh but that’s what it is a lie. Organic Certification is a type of virtuous cycle. Our payment to them is high value. We pay the certifying agency 1% of GROSS income on all the organic product we sell plus a registration fee which can be large. So that’s gross income, before taxes, payroll, electric etc. That payment funds the inspectors all along the supply chain route keeping the integrity of the chain. They also do tones of other educational work, including training for farmers etc. You can see what our certifying agency NOFA-NY does here.
Now if a producer were to pull the “look it says organic right on the sack from origin” routine and charge their customers for organic coffee, well that’s fraud. The client paid for an organic product with part of that cost funding the inspectors along the supply chain but instead the producer pocketed the difference.
What You Can Do
Check to see if the supplier is registered as Certified Organic on the USDA’s website. You can see ours here. There is so much confusion out there regarding organics I just wanted to shed some light on the situation from a Certified Organic coffee roasters perspective. I will leave the rest up to you.
I hope this helps you,