Back to Basics
Tuesday May 2, 2017
Undeniably, the shift to a more eco-conscious and healthy way of food consumption has led to a slew of better alternative products to replace the processed foodstuff. As more people decide to make holistic changes in their lifestyle, so are the companies wanting to get a lion share of this burgeoning market.
Nowadays, it is already a norm to see, hear and read about several claims for organic food and drinks. The labels found on the fresh market or grocery now includes claims such as “responsibly-grown”, “free-range poultry”, “non-GMO project” and so on.
As the demand for these types of food group grows, the degree of the complexity involved with understanding each item also grows. Organic produce labelling can be confusing for many. Imagine, two exactly the same products may have different claims ranging from “organic” to “100% organic”. Surprisingly, those brands who claim their products to be organic may even contain or have used artificial and synthetic ingredients. From the perspective of a consumer, this creates a hollowing question: which is which?
In response to this puzzling dilemma, a set of guidelines (released by National Organic Program for items produced or imported for sale in the US) was released to strictly govern harvesting practices or processes of organic produce growers. From these guidelines, the companies deciphered a way in where they were able to explain the difference between each organic claim.
Although there is a myriad of rule, requirements, and procedure on how to grow, handle, and process organic produce, the scheme on how to do labelling is condensed into four.
Here is how to understand what four of the organic label really means:
- 100% Organic – strictly no evidence or use of any non-organic additives or synthetic ingredients.
- Organic – should contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients. The remaining 5% is for the allowed non-agricultural ingredients.
- Made with Organic Ingredients – must have at least 70% organic ingredients. The remaining component should not be on USDA’s list of prohibited items.
- Processed Food with Organic Ingredients – produce that has less than 70% organic ingredient.
Are Grapes Not Organic
You might think that all grapes are organic. Apparently, that is not the case. As not all grapes can be described as organic. Similar to what was explained earlier (organic labels can send mix signals for consumers), organic wines offer the same amount of confusion.
Let us first lay down the basics. The common knowledge is that organic wines comes from grapes that are essentially grown the natural way. However, the definition of organic wines differs in each country. In addition, there are a number of factors that needs to be cleared out before the winery or grapes are labelled as organic.
To make things more complicated, the vineyards or grapes alone can be certified organic but can’t be still labelled as organic wine. Likewise, wineries using natural methods of viticulture can’t just claim that their grapes are all organic.
Confusing, right? Allow us to shed light to these concerns.
In order to announce that wines are made from organically grown grapes, there is need for a third party agency to certify that indeed 100% of the grapes are grown in an organic way without using chemicals. On the other hand, for vineyards to claim that their grapes are truly organic, they have to complete a total of three growing season without the use of any chemical fertilizers or chemicals.
Based on the law released for winemaking, even if wines came from organically managed vineyards or organic grapes one cannot put a label on the bottle without determining the amount of sulphites present.
Sulphites (between the range of six to 6,000 ppm) are found in many of our daily food such as gelatine, deli meat, and canned tuna. This chemical is mixed with wines to prevent the discolouration or browning of the alcoholic beverage.
Labelling your wines as organic based on the amount of sulphites concentration differs from one country to another. In the US, wines classified as organic are those made from organically grown grapes without any presence of sulphites. While for other regions, such as those from Europe and Canada, organic wines come from grapes which are certified as organically grown with only a certain low level of sulphite mixed into the process.
The factors explained above form part of the whole process that regulates organic viticulture. While it is true that organic wines are fairly gaining a number of aficionados, there are still other vino lovers that still wants to drink traditional wines. After all, wine drinking is still a relative subject matter.
Our selection of organic and traditional wines will surely satisfy your drinking, whatever your preference is.