While the demand for organic products is increasing, the supply is also increasing. More and more people are choosing organic products over conventional products, in the expectation of improvement in their health and life.
When I started buying organic foods, I was just checking for the ‘Organic’ label on the product packs. I never questioned as to whether it is really organic in all senses. But, as I started participating in communities where people talk about conscious living, food and thoughts I got to know that organic labeling is not enough to make any product fully organic. You must consider other factors too.
Know the Source of Organic Products
If you want to ensure that products which you are buying are organic, then you need to know the source. You must understand from where the products are actually coming. It’s best to know your supplier/farmer, their living and working style.
Don’t be afraid to enquire about the land, the farmer’s philosophy about life, his growing methods, farming practices, storage and processing procedure, whether work is done by the individual or company, to provide these organic products.
Check Beyond the Packaging Label – All Green Packets are Not Organic
I have seen people selling fake organic products while changing the packaging and increasing the price of the products. We always assume that organic products are costlier than conventional products. Don’t get fooled by their marketing gimmicks. Check more than the packaging label to know the brand, production, and authorization. If you have a doubt about the product, then it’s better to enquire before buying. It is often said:
As all yellow metals are not Gold,
All products under Green labels are not organic.
During this journey of moving towards an organic life, I have realized that if you know and trust the source, then all other things will be taken care of automatically.
Organic products are organic by “Trust” not by “Certificate” only.
One thing which I have learned is that you can’t live an organic life by simply adopting organic food only, you need to move to a completely natural life. You have to live it in every sense. You must be conscious about what you are eating, what you wear, what you use on your skin. You have to be in the circles of people who are living this kind of life. I know, it’s difficult to change your lifestyle in one go. If you decide to do something with full commitment, then nothing is difficult.
It was a bit easy for us, as we are associated with this kind of community, which motivated us to move towards an organic life. We get naturally-grown ration from the community, which is grown by passionate people who themselves are living an organic life. The community has direct contact with the farmers and one can visit the farms at any time to verify.
We can trust this community because we are closely associated with them in our day to day life.
I came to know about Jiten Grover through a mutual friend who is also a core member of this community. Jiten provides natural products for babies and new moms. I was excited to explore his products because we both are working for babies and new moms. Both of us want to improve and simplify the lives of new moms.
When I talked to him, I was able to relate to his vision of an organic life for babies and new moms. In the past, we had attended a workshop on “Conscious Life & Food”. In that workshop, our facilitator made an interesting comment, that we should use only use those products on our skin, which we can eat too.
To understand Jiten’s work at Earth Baby, I wanted to go into detail as to how he selected the suppliers/farmers for Earth Baby, his personal connections with suppliers, time-to-time quality checks and procedures to pack & preserve organic products.
Hence, I arranged for an interview with him. Here you go:
Neha: What is your criteria for selecting a supplier or farmer?
#1 Be the part of communities
I found most of my suppliers through referrals. I am a part of a community called Sulins (Sustainable Living in India). It’s not only an active Whatsapp group but also handles community sourcing of organic products.
#2 Personal Visits / Connection
I prefer to meet the supplier in person. I visited the Prakruthi Vanam (PV) couple of times. I met the C Green’s (Consume Green) founder Himanshu and Woody’s founder at their respective residences.
A Personal Visit also helps to understand the producer’s / supplier’s outlook to life, motivation, years in business, infrastructure, clientele, etc.
#3 Listen and be sensitive
I listen attentively, to understand the motivation of the producer and how generous and transparent they are, with their practices.
#4 Go deep into the details
I found out recently that the so-called ‘eco-friendly’ sanitary napkins are not really eco-friendly. On my visit to the factory, I noticed the use of plastic inside the napkin. On further study of materials, and I found that non-woven fabric cover (used for carrying bags as it is apparently “eco- friendly”) is really >95% plastic! So, I am not selling this product on Earth Baby anymore.
Suppose the supplier uses organic methods when you are in the process of selecting him, but later changes the production method. How do you keep track of what’s happening at the production field?
I found all my suppliers to be very responsible to the cause. For example, we don’t have Peanut Butter available right now. Woody’s is unable to source organic peanuts right now, and he communicated that to me clearly. We are in it together and for the long term.
Are you connected with direct farmers/suppliers or there is a bridge in between?
I am connected directly. I don’t go ahead with suppliers who merely rebrand. Simple economics. Costing never works out in such cases.
Have you ever rejected any product after finalizing it? On which basis do you reject any source or supplier?
I used K Organic products, for example, their anti-sun tan powder, hair removal bath powder, rose water for my daughter. Great products. But I found:
- No certification or registration as that was still work in progress
- K Organics is rebranding and not the primary producer for most products
Another case: I rejected a herbal shampoo made by PV. It had SLES as a shampoo base.
I rejected Dates from PV. They are the best dates that I have ever had! I still have them in stock for personal use. However, they are sourced from the Middle East. The supply chain is not transparent enough.
How do you preserve organic products? I have experienced that organic & pesticide-free products have a low shelf life. How do you stock and pack these products?
This has been an issue. Most of our edible products are luckily dry (except for the peanut butter). So, 6 months is the ‘best before’ time. I have got some inventory that’s now 5 months old. I have sold some in closed group circles. As for the rest, I plan to consume it myself or give it away.
Earth Baby products are stored at our warehouse. It’s an extension of my office space, so it’s always visible to me.
Packing is done by our office staff. All products are stored in large boxes with lids, nothing is left open. We do not fumigate.
We found that our Himalayan Tea got affected by bugs this month. All products were moved to an adjacent office and our warehouse was fumigated over the weekend. I was personally present there throughout the process.
Do you think that organic products should sell with “certificate” label?
I think a certificate is useful. Not against it, per se. However, suppliers often scale up at the expense of quality standards.
A successful organic brand should have a certification. But the buck shouldn’t stop there. Transparency of sources, motivation and personal engagement of the founders is very important.
There are so many small farmers and processors like Woody’s who might never go for certification, as their scale cannot permit the needed expenses and formalities. Rejecting such sources would be a mistake. With their small scale, they are in fact much better off in maintaining standards.
In such cases, we look for basic registration like FSSAI. Earth Baby itself plays the role of the quality surveyor, by carefully selecting vendors, understand in-depth sourcing and processing procedures and ingredients used.
Packaging style, promotion material, the staff’s manners, the owner’s self-expression – all are valuable signals. Some subtle and some evident. I think as a conscious buyer, one develops the sensitivity and gut feel.
One must also look out for referrals, personal visits to farms, etc. Mere dependency on certification is a modern industrialized civilization habit. Food and skin care are important enough, for one to kick out the passive-buyer attitude. Sometimes, even common sense is enough.
For example, how can all watermelons be red and sweet?
Over To the Readers
Thank you, Jiten, for sharing detailed information and procedures for selecting the best natural products. After knowing the whole process, I now understand how much time and energy it takes, to manage an organic products business.
There are very few people who truly want to change or improve the common man’s life. Only such people put in hard work to provide quality organic products to consumers. And you are one of those few.
The purpose of this article is to let BeingHappyMom readers know, that on which basis you should buy organic products. As we learned, knowing your supplier and his purpose of doing business is important.
I am personally using Earth Baby products and can’t describe the quality in words. It can only be experienced. I am in love with the baby soap bar & Panjeeri 🙂