The universe of certificates is vast and wide-ranging. There are certificates for numerous characteristics: organic certificates, certificates of protected origin, fair trade, gluten-free, lactose-free, for diets such as keto or paleo…..
When we are about to order a product or when we are standing in front of a shop’s stand, we are in doubt and we do not know which one to look for.
Organic certificates help us to know the traceability and origin of the product, and can also constitute a differentiation in quality or taste.
¿What does it tell us?
These seals indicate that the products have been cultivated through organic farming, with all the requirements that this entails.
They are foods that are not treated with synthetic chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, etc.) or genetically modified.
Organic processed foods only accept a dozen additives, mostly natural products, as opposed to the many preservatives, enhancers and colourings found in conventional processed foods.
There are different regulations and accreditations depending on the country you are in. The process of obtaining an organic certificate is long, with numerous phases in which important data is checked, such as the number of years the soil has been free of chemical products, technical data sheets on the agricultural methods used, among others. The process begins with the submission of the documentation by the farmers, which will be analysed by the professionals of the certifying agency. Finally, the farm will be checked by an auditor to verify that all the requirements are met.
In Europe, the certification is regulated under a common legal framework, the European Union Regulation 834/07. The official label is the Euroleaf, which must be accompanied by the code of the certifying body, as well as the place of production.
This label can only be included in foods in which a minimum of 95% of the ingredients are organic.
Each country is responsible for the implementation of this regulation, which is a minimum, so they could tighten it if necessary.
But these extra conditions would apply only to products produced there. Products from other parts of the EU could be labeled as organic by complying only with the basic EU requirements.
The control bodies are a matter for each country, and there may be state labels or private companies, whose logo may appear next to the Euroleaf.
In Spain, certification management is in the hands of the autonomous communities, with some being carried out by public institutions (CAECV) and others by private agencies, as in Andalusia and Castilla la Mancha.
Authorized private certifiers include CAAE, Kiwa, Sohiscert and Agrocolor.
In France, the AB (Agriculture Biologique) logo is well known. It is certified by independent entities such as Ecocert, Agrocert.
In neighboring Germany, there are also widely recognized seals such as Bio-siegel. This seal recognizes that the production respects the minimum standards of the European Union.
But the country also has labels with more demanding requirements than those of the European Union. One of them is Naturland, which in addition to indicating that the producing farm is completely converted to organic, is committed to Social Responsibility criteria.
What about outside the European Union?
There are other regulations, such as the well-known NOP in the USA, which certifies organic products under the USDA organic seal.
Integrated farming certification
What is integrated farming?
Integrated production or integrated farming (IF) seeks sustainable production, where the environment is respected, quality food is produced and society’s needs are met. The use of agrochemicals is allowed, but at minimum levels and always giving priority to biological methods of pest control.
This method aims to reduce the ecological footprint while maintaining production levels close to those of conventional agriculture.
Certification is not specifically regulated at the European level, so each country has the role of drawing up its own regulations.
In Spain there is a national logo, although there are other independent quality schemes such as the LEAF mark.
What is biodynamic agriculture?
This certificate indicates that the product produced follows the principles of biodynamic agriculture, thus respecting the cycles of nature and a very specific philosophy.
Biodynamic agriculture is a model developed by Rudolf Steiner, Austrian philosopher of the 1920s and founder of Waldorf education and anthroposophy.
His approach is holistic, seeing the farm as a complete system where the animal, plant and human worlds come together. He claims a regenerative agriculture, very focused on giving back what the land gives us and maintaining the maximum quality of the soil. Its operation is based on the harmony of cosmic rhythms, the moon and stars mark the harvest and key moments of cultivation.
Obtaining the Demeter seal requires even more restrictive criteria than BIO. The movement has a Biodynamic Federation and its own certified seal, being one of the oldest institutions following this path towards sustainability.
Organic certificates are the best way to guarantee the consumer that all the processes through which the product has gone through in its production have been respectful with the environment and with their health. However, the certification process is complex and involves costs that many small farmers cannot afford, leaving them out of the market.
Certification is very important, although having a direct relationship with the farmers who produce our food, knowing what methods they use and what practices they carry out will always be the most traditional way to have that security in what we consume.
If you want to know more about our way of cultivation, do not hesitate to write us.