What Makes Organic Essential Oils So Different?
In 1940, Lord Northbourne, an English agriculturist and author, coined the term "organic farming", although many practiced organic farming long before then. Since then, people have come to identify organic farming as growing foods and plants without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. In the last few decades, the demand for organic products has continually increased, particularly in more recent years, and this demand has expanded beyond food to include products for beauty, cleaning, health, and more.
Why Organic Essential Oils are More Expensive
Today, when you walk through the grocery store or seek out organic products, you may notice that the prices are noticeably higher for items that have the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) seal of approval. The same is no different in the essential oil industry. Some may argue that the price difference between organic and conventional products is logical, considering it is out of the norm to grow plants without traditional or even expected pesticides and fertilizers. While this is certainly a major factor in deciding the cost of organic products, there is so much more that goes into organic farming. In reality, the cost of organic products, including organic essential oils, is higher than conventional products for many reasons, including:
- Chemical-free farming: As mentioned, organic farming does not use chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Instead, workers hand-weed the crops, clean up any polluted water, and otherwise take care of the land. This requires more labor and more exhaustive management.
- Demand surpasses supply: Organic farming accounts for only .9% of the total amount of farmland worldwide. Because organic farming doesn't use unnatural ways to grow larger amounts of crops, there is often a smaller amount of yield than conventional farming; however, the demand for organic products is higher than ever before, which naturally increases the price.
- Natural fertilizers: Conventional farming often uses chemical fertilizers or sewage sludge to help their crops grow bigger and faster. Yuck! On the other hand, organic farming uses compost and animal manure, which are natural but more expensive to ship to the farms.
- Crop rotation: This is a biggie in organic farming. Conventional farms often produce the same crops year after year; however, organic farming rotates crops to help keep the soil healthy and reduce weeds. While crop rotation is beneficial, organic farms cannot grow profitable crops as frequently as conventional farms.
- Post-harvest handling: In order to keep organic products free from chemicals after they are harvested, they must be handled, packaged, and shipped separately from conventionally grown products. At Rocky Mountain Oils, we follow the same procedure, keeping our organic oils separate from the non-certified organic oils to ensure and maintain purity in every oil. Taking these extra but necessary steps often leads to increased prices for shipping and handling.
- Certification: In order to grow and sell organic crops, farms must be certified by the USDA. Not only that, but farms must continue to comply with the specific standards outlined in their certification, keep meticulous daily records, pay an annual inspection fee, and pay to maintain their certification.
What Does it Mean When an Essential Oil is Certified Organic?
There are several reasons why organic farming, and thus its products, costs more than conventional farming, many of which we listed above. When it comes to essential oils, obtaining a USDA-certified organic oil simply means that the oil came from plants that were grown on farms that are certified by the USDA and follow the practices discussed above, as well as others. Certified organic oils are not necessarily of a higher quality than non-organic oils. In fact, our team at Rocky Mountain Oils works hard to ensure that all of our oils, both certified organic and not, come from farms that use sustainable and organic practices. All of our oils also undergo the same GC/MS and pesticide testing to make sure they are free of any contaminants. While the quality of certified organic oils and non-organic oils are the same, the cost is different. Organic oils cost more for the same reasons that organic foods cost more: they come from certified organic farms that cost more to support, produce smaller amounts of crops, and are required to abide by strict USDA guidelines.
Choosing Organic Products Means Choosing to Care for the Earth
When you choose to use or eat organic products, you are choosing so much more than a healthier, cleaner product; you are choosing to care for the earth. At Rocky Mountain Oils, we believe in taking care of Mother Earth the way she takes care of us, and we are dedicated to maintaining sustainable practices across the board for all of our oils and farming sources. And when you choose organic essential oils, you can join us and farmers across the world in our efforts to sustain and protect the environment. How, you ask? Organic farming uses a variety of sustainable practices that help protect the earth around us. Some of the ways that organic farming does this is by:
- Implementing organic practices to care for the soil. Some of these practices include crop rotation, inter-cropping, cover crops, and using organic fertilizers. When plants grow, they, in part, use the nutrients from the soil they are planted in. By regularly implementing the organic practices listed, as well as others, farmers help maintain soil flora and fauna, which improves soil formation, increases the soil's ability to retain water and nutrients, and reduces soil erosion.
- Reducing groundwater pollution. Many conventional farms pollute groundwater by using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. In organic farming, such practices are prohibited. As a result, organic farmers can avoid polluting groundwater in the first place and even help restore soil that has already been polluted.
- Reducing the severity of climate change. Organic farming does not require the use of any non-renewable energy. In addition, organic farming practices, like crop rotation and cover crops, help return carbon to the soil. The more carbon that is retained in the soil, the more we can lessen the greenhouse effect and reduce climate change.
- Increasing and maintaining biodiversity. By growing a diverse range of plants, rotating crops, and avoiding chemical inputs, organic farmers help provide and sustain natural environments that allow both plants and animals to flourish. This helps all aspects of nature to live the way they should.
These are just a few of the ways that organic farming and choosing organic products can help care for the planet. The plants and oils that we get are a gift, and it is well worth the cost of getting them when it means that we are doing our part to sustain and protect the earth from which they come. Currently, we are pleased to offer 10 USDA-certified organic essential oils: Organic Tea Tree, Organic Peppermint, Organic Orange, Organic Lemon, Organic Lavender, Organic Frankincense, Organic Oregano, Organic Eucalyptus, Organic Grapefruit, and Organic Turmeric.