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If you’re at all dialed in to the organic sector, you know: getting your product certified is hard.

While, as a consumer, I appreciate the strict regulations applied to organic farmland, the time and cost can be quite prohibitive for farmers. The process takes 3 years and requires quite a pretty penny, meaning small and medium sized farms are often priced out of the certification. Currently, only 1% of U.S. farm acreage is certified organic, despite the rise of organic products, totaling 5% of food sales last year.

That is why I’m so excited about the new “Transitional Certification” movement.

Land that is the process of converting from conventional to organic is called transitional. In year two of the three-year process, products made with ingredients that are a minimum of 51% transitional can be labeled as such. Crops in transition are grown using sustainable processes, avoiding genetically modified seeds as well as prohibited conventional synthetic pesticides. This means companies can charge a higher premium than conventional in order to offset the cost of the change, and more farmland – of all sizes – can start the conversion. After three years, land that passes regulations will be labeled organic.

At Retail Voodoo, we first heard about the movement through our client Living Intentions, a raw and sprouted food company committed to delicious, nutritiously dense products. They are helping lead the way to more organic agriculture by sourcing some of their almonds from transitional farms. Because they are on the leading edge of the movement, their first round of products through this initiative were sourced before the certification label was even established.

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“I think it is really important to create awareness around transitional farming, as we are supporting farms to take that giant leap away from using chemicals and move into more sustainable growing practices. Supporting transitional farms also help create public awareness and gives consumers an option to purchase a good clean product at reasonable prices. This is just better for everyone, plain and simple.” – Joshua McHugh, Founder, Living Intentions

The transitional program getting the most buzz is by Quality Assurance International, backed by Kashi (owned by Kellogg’s – makers of crunchy rainbow colored corn syrup Fruit Loops), which left me a touch skeptical. However, Kashi has the marketing budget to spread the word to consumers on what the new certification means, and seems genuinely committed to improved transparency in the supply chain after a GMO snafu in 2012. Kashi’s Dark Cocoa Karma Shredded Wheat Biscuits is one of the first products on the market with the official label: 100% certified transitional ingredients. The product has a slightly higher price point than their other products, but lower than USDA Organic products.

 

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As we mentioned in our last newsletter, organic products are no longer sought out solely by granola loving hippies, but everyone. It’s great to see initiatives such as “Certified Transitional” as well as programs like the PCC Land Trust, started by former Retail Voodoo client (and favorite grocer) PCC Natural Markets.

Hopefully initiatives like these lead to a world with a more sustainable food system, where better-for-you and organic products are more accessible for everyone.

 

*Hashtag is a bi-monthly blog on popular topics in brand, packaging, and consumerism representing the views of probably, like, all millennials everywhere. (Or at least those of Stephanie).