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How do you know it's organic?

by Michelle Miles

The following advertisements are not placed by Organic Pathways and are not necessarily organic

As a user of organic goods and services how do you know that you are getting what is promised?

Certification systems have been established to ensure organic goods are produced and handled appropriately.

New Zealand Certification Systems

Bio Gro
The Bio-Gro trademark of the New Zealand Biological Producers and Consumers Council Inc. is validated by the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM). IFOAM has 600 member organisations in 95 countries. The Bio-Gro philosophy involves the non use of artificial chemicals as well as the use of a positive management system based on the concept of a productive eco-system


The Demeter trademark is licensed by The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association Inc. which promotes biodynamic practices based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, and is a member of IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements). Demeter is a world wide certification system, used to verify to the consumers in over 50 countries that food or product has been produced by biodynamic methods. Biodynamic agriculture regards the earth as a living organism, and includes the use of specially fermented herbal preparations in the growing process.


AssureQuality (was Agriquality)


AsureQuality provides an organic certification service to organic producers and processors through its certification business Certenz. The AsureQuality Organic Standard is based on the international Codex Alinorm 99/22, EU Regulations and the Australian National Standard. It has been set at the market access level, which means it will as a minimum meet all international requirements and be accepted by international markets. It differs in some degree to Bio-Gro and Demeter.

The OrganicFarmNZ label is found on produce from a network of New Zealand's small-scale producers. OrganicFarmNZ is a certification scheme which operates under the Soil and Health Association but is run at grass-roots level by 12 regional bodies. The scheme operates by peer reveiw and is designed to give consumers confidence that the food they buy is of the same standard as that produced under the Bio-Gro, Demeter and Certenz labels.


Far North Organic Growers and Producers Association
Aims to offer affordable organic certification for local growers and producers and provide meaningful verification that food is grown to a standard without chemical or prohibited inputs.  The association provide certification for producers wishing to sell to their local market and also administers the Far North Branch of ORGANIC FARM NZ (OFNZ).





International Certification

Food products imported into New Zealand from overseas will be certified by a variety of organisations based in the various countries. These include:

CCOF - California Certified Organic Farmers, Founded in 1973.
- The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia, formed in 1986.
BFA - Biological Farmers Association - Australia
BIOAGRICERT -Italian organic certification
BIOLOGICO - Italian organic certification
BOLICERT - Bolivia
COFA California Organic Foods Act 1950
ECOCERT - France
FVO - Farm Verified Organic - USA
IFOAM - International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements - Global
IMO - Switzerland
MAFF - Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food - UK
OCIA - Organic Crop Improvement Association - USA
OFA - Organic Federation of Australia
OPAM - Organic Producers of Manitoba - Canada
QAI - Quality Assurance International - Global
SKAL-EKO - International Inspection & Certification Organisation - Global
TIMOR ORGANIC - Government of East Timor / NASAA aligned

Certified Products

Products can be fully certified or may have some certified and some non-certified ingredients.

If a particular product is fully certified it contains only certified ingredients and the processes used to produce it also meet organic standards.

There is also produce for sale which is described as organic but which is not certified. The producers are asking you to trust that they are following appropriate practices and that their goods are truly organic.

Producers should be willing to share their organic philosophy with you so that you are able to make an informed choice about their goods.


International Federation Of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association. USA.

Demeter International

Demeter Association Inc. USA


The following advertisements are not placed by Organic Pathways and are not necessarily organic