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How do we know it is really organic

Really OrganicHow do we know it is really organic

A simple but very valid question. Let me try to explain what we do to feel comfortable our products, which we claim as organic and healthy actually are.

Organic or not organic vegetables, fruits and herbs look the same so there is no clue there. (except for the occasional impurities or holes in the leaves). I personally think organic tastes better but that is also difficult to judge. More is required if we want to feel comfortable that a product is truly organic.

Critical by nature, I challenge farmers, question suppliers, check out ingredients in organic finished products. I also try to challenge those who claim organic dishes in some restaurants to try to find out if these indeed are. In addition, it disappoints me that most detox centers here on Phuket do not use organic as I truly believe you can not detox with toxins, but who am I.

Phuket has an ever growing number of people, either living here or as a tourist visiting our lovely island in the sun who are wellness-minded or sporters and conscious about their health and what is needed to feel good and achieve their goals.

Click here for a little video from Sweden in which it is clarified that a 2 week period of only eating organic food can get rid of as good as all pesticides in your body. As they also say in the video, it is perhaps not the single pesticide which is a major risk but we don’t know what risk the mix of many different pesticides together is. Its impressive to see in the video that it only takes 2 weeks for as good as all pesticide chemicals to leave your body.

You know when they say…..

“Sugar-Free, think Fat Bomb” or “Fat-Free, think Sugar Bomb”. Same for many other food claims, be critical, ask what else is in the product they offer. ‘Acai bowl’ also attracts a lot of people because Acai a very healthy product, unfortunately, many use it with other products which are not very healthy thereby nullifying the positive aspect of the Acai, often chemical fruits, wrong citric acid, and other unhealthy stuff is used which makes the total product unhealthy, regardless of the Acai in there.

In the western world, it is clearly not overly risky to eat non-organic vegetables but as the industry professional and health workers say “except for products which come from Asia”! Too many times farmers in Asia use excessive use of chemical pesticides: herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and others. Thailand is the largest importer of pesticides in the region. Be careful out here!

“Organic” is used often and too easily by the restaurants

Many in the food sector love to use the word organic because they know it is great for p.r./marketing reasons, they know it sounds attractive and attracts quite some customers. But more seriously it also attracts the cancer patient who is trying to heal him/herself from a terrible illness and requires clean food to do so, who is fooled by these (untrue) claims. More restaurants should consider this when they make these organic claims.

In Thailand, the word “organic”, contrary to the Western world is not legally protected and can, unfortunately, be used at random and at will without risking legal consequence.

The primary pillars why we claim our products to be organic and/or healthy:

First of all trust, experience and reputation. In the farmer, in the middleman or trader, and in the producer. Yes, first and mostly trust.

Secondly, taste, nutrition, and quality. Organic produce tastes better which goes parallel to better nutrition.

Thirdly, farm visits. To check out the farm, we check if neighbours are using chemicals (“cross-contamination”). We also try to judge the environment, the location and the general way the farmer works. Important for us is to learn if the farmer has an organic heart and mindset, is he in organic for $$$ only or for the organic principles?

But also:

1) Having an official organic certificate helps but which certification? Yes, it is nice to have a copy of a certificate but in our experience, we should not put too much value on this.

It can be falsified, or even much easier it does not have to represent the products actually delivered. We have visited beautiful, impressive and idyllic farms which were correctly certified organic and with an official certificate but the products received, we later found out, came from somewhere else. (not certified land)

2) Which organic certificate was used? International organic certification standards (f.i. U.S.A., European, Japanese, Australian) are worth a lot more than the local “Organic Thailand” certifications.

Especially the latter is known to be weak and the controls are mostly not existent. Many of the products with an “Organic Thailand Certification” are found to nevertheless carry high levels of pesticide residues. (as per many newspaper articles) We prefer not to buy from these farms. (We have heard that in the meantime, forced to do so by the negative articles in the newspapers over the last few years that this certification standard has stopped to exist)

3) We also ‘test’ the farm. When we walk around during a farm visit we ask how much they produce of a certain product, for instance, Kale. We get to hear for instance 50 kg per week. After we start buying from this farm and about 2 months later we ‘accidentally’ ask the farmer if he can do us a huge favour as we so called have an important customer who quickly requires 150 kg and ask him if he can help us.

When this is answered by a ‘No problem’ we, of course, know he’s been lying to us and we stop doing business with the farmer. It is not much but…..these little things help us build (or destroy) a solid organic relationship with the farmer.

4) We also buy through people who are our mediate between us and a selection of small organic farmers. Coordinating the collection/delivery, packaging, and transportation for us. Having an organic farm themselves they know what to check and expect from the farmers we get various products from. They speak the farmers ‘language’ and they are very useful to us. Responsible for collecting the certificates from various farms, they explain/ascertain what is needed to be correctly organic.

Communicating our wishes about the kind of products we are looking for and from time to time to check our products for nitrate levels (proof of not using chemical fertiliser) to check if these are in line what can be expected for an organic product. The small farmers we buy from are sometimes not certified but ‘in transition’, i.e. on their way to be certified in the very near future.

But why doesn’t Pura only sell certified organic products?

Because the varieties available would be too limited and we think it is still much better to have the 2nd best, i.e. “in transition”, the 3rd best “organically grown “or even the 4th best “Chemical Free” if it comes to health and taste in comparison to the chemical laden regular products.

We can only wish that one day Thailand will make the work organic a protected word and laws will emerge to punish those who use it in vain. (that ‘ll be the day….). Thailand is known as “The kitchen of the world”, let’s hope that one day it will also be named as the “Organic kitchen of the world”, if its upto me, lets work on it.

Conclusion:

The optimal situation would be to have both a trusted supplier with an official certificate by an international organic standard.

Some challenge Pura and ask if we are certain organic seeds are used, this would indeed be optimal but I’d rather have a non-gmo, non-organic seed which grows in healthy organic soil which is known to contain more than 50 minerals which it can give to the plant/vegetable than an organic seed growing in non-organic soil.

Spinach, known as one of the most healthy vegetables (Popeye?) will only be healthy when and if grown in healthy soil, spinach grown in a hydroponic way lacks many of the minerals (hydroponic mostly uses only ten to twelve (refined) minerals instead of the 50 normally available in organic and healthy soil).

Like I say regularly: “Be Careful out there!”, don’t be fooled by unfounded claims, ask for verification, ask for proof, or simply ask if it is really organic “INSEE” in Thai.

How do we know it is really organic

Pura’s products are either certified organic, organic or healthy. We can show you the certificates we have, we can explain why we believe our products are healthy. We can explain how our suppliers work, how and if our products are tested, why I trust the people we do business with.

We don’t believe too much in the claim of ‘Natural’ as oil, tsunami, snake bites, mercury and many other products are ‘natural’ but I would advise you not to consume these either.

It is trust, which is important in this business, trust we have in our products and trust we hope we can gain from you based on our explanations as above and our reputation. Pura Organic Foods Ltd can’t afford losing its organic reputation, this is the pillar of our business model.

We can only ask you to trust us when we say that we always try to find the best suppliers, that we make ethical choices, that we react and take action when we find out wrong doings but we can only promise you that we do our best!

Feel free to call if you would like to discuss this further,

Martin

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