A question we field regularly from customers is “how organic” our products are (meaning how many of the ingredients are organic) and why our lines are not produced or labelled as organic.
The answer boils down to two main factors: first, that organic standards are patchy in North America and non-existent in Canada, and second, that we choose our ingredients based on a number of factors, organic being just one of them.
Organic Standards in North America
Whether or not a product is “organic” is a complicated topic in North America, with little to no regulated criteria here in Canada.
In the US, skincare products may be certified as organic under USDA requirements if they contain food-grade, certified organic ingredients.
Under USDA, a skincare product can be certified organic as a food product if it meets the requirements. If it does not meet these requirements then it is not allowed to convey or imply that the product is certified organic.
However in the USA the FDA has authority over production and labelling of cosmetics/skincare, and they have very little power over misleading labels. (See more information here.)
There is no Canadian organics standard for cosmetics/skincare, and the Canadian Organic Standards logo is meant for food, not cosmetics.
There is, however, a certification out of France called EcoCert, or certification within Canada by Certech, an organization which is privately owned and not affiliated with or supported by any regulatory agency. This certification makes sense for some larger companies who have identified organic certification as their top priority and can afford the certification for each of their products (each product is certified individually).
A few of our products (Sweet Pea Organic Body Wash + Shampoo, Skin Tight Belly Butter, Happy Mumma (was Labour Support) Massage Oil and our Organic Hand & Body Washes) meet the USDA organic standards and we label them as Organic to alert customers to the fact that they have an organic ingredient content of 90% or more (please note: water is not included in this measurement).
Our Criteria for Ingredients
So, you can see why organic certification is not our top priority, just a piece of the puzzle when we shop for ingredients. Here is the breakdown of our priorities:
- Quality — quality is top of the list for us. A high quality ingredient will always win out — it’s a bare minimum standard here.
- Farming practices — yes, we love to buy organic, and many of our ingredients are, in fact, organically grown and certified as such, as disclosed on all our labels. However, when there is a high quality ingredient grown by a local and/or ethical producer that is not certified organic, we look at why that is. Is it because their practices do not meet organic standards? Because their products are wildcrafted? Or because they can’t afford organic certification? These are all questions we ask when looking at ingredients. There are many factors to weigh here!
- Local or Canadian — this also takes precedence over organic certification, again especially when a producer’s growing practices are ethical and they are simply not certified. We support as local as possible, Canadian next, and North American after that — always before looking overseas!
- Cost — there are some cases where the organic and non-organic choice for an ingredient differs in cost by a multitude of more than ten. For instance, if we made our beloved Smooth as a Baby’s Bum Balm 100% organic, the price would go up from $19.95 to more than double that!
- Fair trade — if we can get an ingredient that is fair trade-certified without it too greatly impacting the cost of the finished product we make, we definitely choose fair trade! For instance, our shea butter, which appears in many of our products, is certified Fair Trade and our purchases support the women's group in Ghana that produces it, and subsequently, the entire village in which they live.
We recognize that many of our suppliers are small, family-run businesses. Our top priority is creating a product that is safe and of the highest quality, affordable for families, handcrafted in small batches by employees who receive a Living Wage, and created in a sustainable manner every step of the way.