Buyer Beware: Organic Soils Not Always So “Organic”
No Regulation for “Organic” Soils and Orange County Still Supports its Use in the July Newsletter, Announces Holy Cow Soils
Nashville, TN (PRWEB) July 30, 2013
With all the recent uproar with human waste being used as a fertilizer (and calling it organic) Orange County still decided to support its use in their July 2013 newsletter (see current newsletter here). Even after the Supreme Court (in California Reviews Biosolid Ruling, June 28, 2013 Metropolitan News) got involved in by reviewing rulings on the use of biosolids, cities still engage in the use of this sludge that is re-packaged as “Organic Fertilizer”. The word “organic,” like other terms used in marketing, does not always mean what a consumer believes it means. As with anything, from buying toys to a new car, beverages to frozen foods, the buyer should be aware. That includes being aware of the ingredients in soils consumers buy for their landscaping and gardening, whether a home gardener, a professional landscaper or a master gardener.
In soils, when the term organic is used by a seller or on a package, it may not mean the product is free from unnecessary amounts of toxins and hazardous waste that consumers would prefer to keep out of their yard or garden.
Many kinds of products promote themselves as organic. The government, through the Food and Drug Administration, or USDA, regulates which food products may claim to be “organic,” or make similar claims. However, many food producers still take it upon themselves to be certified organic because they want to have an extra level of trust between themselves and their customers.
Even though the government regulates what is organic in food, they DO NOT regulate what the food is grown in. Which, by the way, goes into the food. The government does not regulate claims that are made on soil products. To some, it seems a no-brainer that a soil is organic. But what soils can be considered truly organic? Not all soils that claim to be organic are what an average person would reasonably think of as organic.
The best way to know if a soil is truly organic is if it is certified organic. Certification comes from the informed, rigorous requirements established by an organization that takes “organic” labeling very seriously. With soils, as with foods, certification adds an extra level of trust between a producer and their consumers.
Just as people don’t seriously refer to carefully designed soils as, simply, “dirt,” there’s a reason some materials are called solid waste, or “biosolids.” In the 1970s, the use of biosolids as fertilizer on farmers’ crops was accepted in the U.S., and judged acceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency. Land application regulations for these treated waste materials were originally formulated by the EPA Office of Water.
What are Biosolids? In short, sewer sludge or human waste material. This “sludge” comes from sewage treatment plants from cities all over the country.
Biosolids became a movement among municipalities across the United States in the 1980s and 1990s, a way to avoid dumping their treated waste or funneling it into oceans or other waterways. For cities and for farmers – who were the end users of the biosolids – this use of treated waste saved money and offered free fertilizer. Unfortunately, biosolids are not what people would reasonably regard as organic. On occasion, biosolids use have caused the destruction of entire crops, human illness, and deaths among livestock (see one of many reports you can find online at Environmental Health Perspectives March 2013 Report).
If someone is selling soil and claims that it is organic, would a consumer expect it to include biosolids, and comparably high levels of heavy metals or other toxins? Soil producers such as Holy Cow!® Soils, based in Nashville, Tenn., believe that consumers don’t want or expect such ingredients in truly organic soil products. Neither does the Organic Materials Review Institute, or OMRI.
OMRI is an independent organization that takes the term “organic” very seriously. Soil contents that OMRI considers to be acceptable for organic use are far more stringent than what some people may, generically, consider to be organic. Biosolids on the other hand are not considered acceptable by OMRI for use in organic production.
Many cities use biosolids for fertilizer in schools and offer students use of it for school gardening projects. In San Fransisco, they were even giving it away to local gardeners (see May 2013 article from Rebekah Wilce “Trade Group Offers Free Sewage Sludge "Compost"). “Quite a few utility companies even try touting that they have ‘clean’ biosolid material that can be used for composting. The only problem is the fecal coliforms present in the sludge grow back after the ‘cleaning’ process happens according to what we have learned,” states Terry Flatt, President of Holy Cow Soils. “It is sad to see how the term organic can be so trusted yet used improperly for gardening and landscape products.”
Many common bagged soils contain Biosolids and is proud to proclaim they are organic. But with the amount of metals (27 usually), pharmaceuticals and toxins contained within makes it far from the clean, healthy, safe organic label it contains.
Holy Cow!® Soils concentrates on only products which are being considered by OMRI for organic use and none of their products use biosolids within it. Their soil blends contain only what encourages gardens and landscaping to flourish naturally: leaves and other safe compost materials, worm castings, sand, topsoil, soil conditioners, moisture, safe levels of beneficial minerals, and other natural ingredients. Holy Cow!® Soils have the organic content and pH balance that consumers expect from top-notch soil with no pesticides added. They promise to never contain questionable ingredients including biosolids.
Terry goes on to state, “We designed our soil to not only be completely organic and safe, but extremely effective for anyone’s flower or vegetable garden. Real organic soils are truly more effective. What God intended really works.”
- Jon Osterholm (for Warehouse Multimedia, Inc.)
For further information:
Warehouse Multimedia, Inc.
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