Recently we had a response to a blog post about our compost and how it is considered Organic. The question was, “How is compost anything but organic? You put the term organic in front of it so you can charge more for the same thing.”
Great question! This is an answer that is probably helpful to a lot of interested consumers about the necessity, purpose, or value of the “organic” label.
To a certain extent, you are correct: most compost – if it truly is compost – is what we call “lower case ‘o’ organic” – meaning it is made from natural, carbon-based ingredients like plants or manure. We, too, have seen some other companies and products on the market that refer to their compost as “organic compost”, perhaps to – as you say – be able to charge more, but are nothing other than compost – and of varying quality.
When Purple Cow Organics refers to its compost products as Organic (conversely, we use the phrase “capital “O” Organic” to describe Purple Cow products) we are referring to products that are approved for use in USDA Certified Organic production and/or OMRI Listed for Organic Use. The process in which we craft the aerobically-made compost – taking into account time, temperature, turning – is highly standardized to insure quality and consistency every time.
Unlike food, which gets the designation “USDA Certified Organic”, products like compost that are used in organic production need to be approved by a certifier. Having a product OMRI Listed allows certifiers and growers expedite the approval process for those products. OMRI is the Organic Materials Review Institute, which is a private, nonprofit organization that does independent vetting of products to make sure they are approved for organic production. Our composting process and compost products are subject to one of the most stringent vetting processes to insure consistency, quality, safety, and sustainability. You can see a list of approved (OMRI Listed) products at www.OMRI.org.
Purple Cow compost not only meets, but exceeds the standards set forth by OMRI and the US Compost Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance (USCC-STA) in terms of maturity, quality, consistency, growing emergence and vigor, particle size, etc.
OMRI is the organization that we use for pre-approval, but there are others including NOP (https://www.ams.usda.gov/about-ams/programs-offices/national-organic-program)
Thanks again for the question!