What Does Organic Mean in Beekeeping?

What is the purpose of OCA?

Here at Organic Consumers Association we pride ourselves in education the consumer on what are the organic standards around the country and keeping you up to date with important changes. We think its vitally important that the consumer is aware of what exactly “organic” truly means.  When you see the word “organic” on a label, do you know what it is classifying?

Organic.org says:

“Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines “organic” as follows:

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”

But did you know that something can be labeled “organic” and is not actually entirely organic?

The USDA has 3 labels for identifying organic products:

100% Organic: Made with 100% organic ingredients

Organic: Made with at least 95% organic ingredients

Made With Organic Ingredients: Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may list organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.


What we think

Here at OCA, we find it very deceitful that companies are allowed to tout themselves as organic when they are actually they can have 5% non-organic ingredients.  We hope to show you companies and farmers who are producing food that is BETTER.  We like to think of it as BETTER than organic.

What the experts say

One such farmer is Derek Abello, who operates a beehive removal Phoenix company.  He produces not only honey, but also has fruit and nut orchards, vineyards, citrus groves, and vegetable produce.  None of his food products are organic certified.  He says, “I see no need.  I don’t want to be classified with the organic label because my products are better than that.  We use absolutely no human intervention of any kind.  No fertilizers or anything like that.  We mulch with woodchips (chipped fresh from our desert) and we water using a drip system as needed from a well that has no chlorine or chemicals added.  You cannot get any purer than this.  I personally am angered by the deception in the honey industry.  Many people label their honey as organic yet they have fed their bees sugar.  Or they use pre-made wax foundation that has pesticides in it from the previous bee exposure.  Or they have bees that forage in chemically laden, pesticide laden fields.  We at Abello Bees strive for a better way.  The only label I’m interested in putting on my jar of honey is one that says ‘Better than Organic!'”

Is organic really necessary?

Which type of produce has the highest pesticide residues?—and which do not?  The following list from the Environmental Working Group will help.   Vote with your wallet!

12 Most Contaminated

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

12 Least Contaminated

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

reference: Environmental Working Group