Incorporating a truly organic lifestyle into your already hectic schedule is challenging - especially in Hong Kong where there is little regulation when it comes to organic labelling. We talk to Michael Tse of organic retailer, Organic Taste, to learn more about how to spot the real deal.
The Challenge of Finding Authentic Organic Products
In Hong Kong there is
legislation against a label that 'falsely describes the food', but since anything that has come from an organism is technically 'organic', this is a grey area. If your reasons for wanting to go organic are based around protecting the environment in which the products are grown, and ensuring an untainted end product, then the lack of regulation with regard to the term 'organic' in Hong Kong means that you may still be buying products that contain traces of heavy metals and pesticides.
The solution is to choose imported organics from countries that have a reputable and strict system for qualifying what makes a food/household product organic, such as the United States or the European Union (EU).
In Hong Kong there is legislation against a label that 'falsely describes the food', but since anything that has come from an an organism is technically 'organic', this is a grey area.
Understanding the Organic Certification Process
Getting organic certification in the US and the EU is incredibly difficult, but for many vendors, it is considered worthwhile as consumers know what they are getting. In the United States
example, all organic farmers must adhere by guidelines enforced by the USDA
(United States Department of Agriculture) on how and where crops are planted, the source of the crop seed, and proof of the chemical make-up of the soil. Farmers are only allowed to use organic pesticides and herbicides.
Thorough on-site inspections ensure farmers are following guidelines and protect against potential chemical contamination by testing samples and examining soil, tissues from products, water systems, crop fields, storage areas, equipment, livestock's living conditions, and processing and handling facilities. The supply chain from farm to packaging is also evaluated.
In addition, the USDA has very stringent requirements of the composition of organic ingredients in organic labelled products. In general,
products can be certified as 100 percent organic, 95 percent organic, or 'made with organic product' - meaning they contain less than 70 percent organic material. The latter cannot legally be called 'organic'.
As with the US certification process, in the EU farmers, processors, distributors, retailers, and importers must all follow incredibly strict EU organic laws
in order for products to be labelled as organic. Products sold as organic in the EU can only be labelled as such if they contain 95 percent organic material. Organic certifiers in both the US and the EU are entirely third party and independent from producers and consumers alike - giving the consumer a high degree of confidence in the system.
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The real deal - USDA and EU certification[/caption]
Organic products issued by organic certification bodies are printed with 'Certified Organic' labels, which include the relevant certification body logo and the country or organisation that is certifying the product. For The United States Department of Agriculture, organic labels will have green and white themed USDA ORGANIC enclosed in a circle, whereas the European Union label will be green with a white leaf made of stars.
Note that it is very easy for manufacturers to skirt around these rules by sticking a label on their product that might claim something like 'nature friendly' or even state certification by an association that they themselves have set up, so be sure to look for genuine certifications.
The Challenge of Shopping Organic Online
It's easy enough to spot these labelling details in a brick and mortar store as you can pick up products and scrutinise the details, but for convenience and more economical shopping we often turn to online shopping solutions. As with the earlier recommendation, be sure to look for organic online stores
that sell organic products
bearing EU and US organic certification. You should also remember that 'online' can mean the company is based in another country where labelling requirements are lacking. Check where the business is actually located.
is one of the largest online organic retailers in Hong Kong, delive
ring authentically organic products to your door. The company is not only one hundred percent committed to selling certified organic product, but also to providing absolute transparency on the material of their product. Each product page displays relevant organic certification alongside product features such as, gluten-free, non-allergenic, vegan, fair trade, non-GMO, etc, making it easy for customers to filter and search products according to dietary needs.
In addition, Organic Taste operates solely on an online basis, meaning it does not pass on high rent prices to its customers, making shopping for organics incredibly affordable. In addition, customers can sign up
to be Organic Taste members online for free, and benefit from free product trial, an extra 5% discount, and members'-only events.