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Frequently Asked Questions

Organic Questions

agriculture, certification, claims, cost, natural vs organic, nutrition, regulations

What is organic agriculture?
Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm. Or in the words of the National Organics Standard Board, "Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony." 

What does "certified organic" mean?
"Certified organic" is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. The act provided for a National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) that develops and recommends the standards for the National Organic Program (NOP) as administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). A certified organic product means that a state or private certification organization that is accredited by the USDA has verified that the product meets its strict organic standards. The certifier inspects the location where the organic product is produced and handled to ensure that all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards are being followed. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to the local supermarket or restaurant must also be certified and inspected annually to ensure continued compliance. (In order to maintain their accredited certifier status with the USDA, certifiers are required to conduct annual on-site inspections of all their clients.)

Who is your organic certifier?
Mountain Maus’ Remedies certified organic products are all certified by a leading third-party organic certifier Mountain Rose Herbs and Starwest Botanicals.

In the state of Washington we are considered a "Small organic farms and businesses (gross agricultural income from organic sales does not exceed $5,000 per year)" therefore we are not required to be certified organic. For reference you can go to this link hereAll of our organic product we receive from our suppliers are not opened or repackaged, it is re-labeled, re-weighed to ensure accuracy, placed in a controlled environment and immediately shipped the following shipping day. 

Can you help me understand certain organic claims? For example, what is the difference between 100% Organic vs. Made with Organic? 
Here are the basic USDA regulations for the four recognized types of organic claims:

• Products labeled "100 Percent Organic" must show an ingredients list, the name and address of the handler (bottler, distributor, importer, manufacturer, packer, processor, etc.) of the finished product, and the name/seal of the organic certifier. All ingredients must be certified organic (excluding water and salt).
• Products labeled "Organic" must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients. The label must contain an ingredient list that identifies the organic, as well as the non-organic ingredients in the product and the name of the organic certifier. A minimum of 95% of the ingredients (excluding water and salt) must be certified organic, and any non-organic ingredients used, must be approved for use in an organic product by the USDA.
• Products labeled "Made with Organic (specified ingredients or food groups)" must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients (excluding water and salt) and up to 30% non-organic agricultural ingredients or other ingredients approved for use in organic products by the USDA. The label must contain an ingredients list that identifies the organic, as well as the non-organic ingredients in the product, along with the name of the organic certifier. 
• If a product contains less than 70 percent organic ingredients, the product can specify organic ingredients only on the ingredient panel. The product cannot use the word "organic" on the principal display panel or display any organic certifier seals.

Are organic products completely free of pesticide residues?

No matter what the government tells us I can sum this question up in one word NO. The government gives you this: "The 1995 definition of organic production by the National Organics Standard Board notes that "Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and waters." These methods include buffer zones between conventional and organic fields, a three-year waiting period before previously non-organic land can be used for organic crops, and placing organic products in storage on the higher shelves to avoid cross contamination from non-organic products.

When we began our farm we wanted to be able to use the word “organic” to describe our naturally grown herbs, because, well , that is what they are, right?  However, as of the 2002 National Organic Program (NOP) Final Ruling, this word is USDA regulated so that only certified producers and processors can use it in their marketing.  Yes, that is correct, the government basically owns the word "organic" for food products.  This pretty much means you have to be in compliance with the organic standards set forth by the US government and use their regulated list of pesticide and chemical fertilizer companies. Certification is very expensive and Mountain Maus’ Remedies doesn't want to pass on the costs to their customers, so we have opted out of being 'certified organic'.

What we have learned is that certified organic product means that a farm has applied, paid for, and received a special certification from the US government, indicating that the herbs and other produce they cultivate have been grown without the use of pesticides, synthetics and chemical fertilizers and do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMO) that are not on the US governments approved list.

Organic food production is a heavily regulated industry, but is very distinct from private gardening. In order for a farmer to label their food as "organic", they must meet all of the regulations and standards set by the US government. What these “Certified Organic Farmers” fail to tell you is that they do use pesticides, and chemical fertilizers that are regulated and approved by the government. We found this out when we were going to apply for certification. We were shocked to find that “Certified Organic” isn't really what it is all cracked up to be. The US government actually provides a list of “approved” pesticides and chemical fertilizers farmers can use on their crops so reality is, is that just because it has the words "Certified Organic" really doesn't mean that it was organically grown and you and your family is still getting all the extra chemicals and stuff that 'regular' produce has, except that it is approved by the US government!  

Organic Products are only tested by a certification agency for contamination if a complaint is filed, then then do a spot-check of certain crops and report any evidence of contamination.

The principal guidelines for organic production require using materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and integrate the farming into the whole ecology. Please read out Blog on Certified Organic v/s Organically Gown.

What are NOS, NOP and NOSB?
The National Organic Standard (NOS) is a federal regulation created by the USDA to provide uniform, enforceable federal regulations regarding organics. The regulation is administered and enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the National Organic Program (NOP) that was implemented in 2002. Ongoing development of standards is centered in the National Organics Standard Board (NOSB), an advisory board that suggests additions and changes to the regulation and advises the Secretary of Agriculture on other aspects of the NOP.

Mountain Maus’ Remedies is a small organically grown grower/harvester and does not gross sales in excess of what NOP regulates we are considered “exempt” operation and are not required to provide a NOP. We do however comply with specific sections of the USDA organic regulations.

If you purchase "Organic" herbs from us please note that we purchase them from Vendors/farms that are "Certified Organic". If you purchase Certified Organic herbs and require an Organic Certification we will send you the C/A obtained from our source. We do not open or repackage purchased Certified Organic herbs. They will be sent to you in the box they arrived in at our facility and forwarded directly to you. 

Other Question asked.

After I place my order why does it take a few days for shipping?

Well, during our harvest season May-August 75% of the herbs we cultivate and harvest here on our farm are the freshest you will ever receive compared to any retail herbal store. If the items you ordered just happens to fall within our harvest period of that here (i.e. chamomile) you will be receiving the chamomile we harvest when your order was placed. It's worth the wait and if you can't or don't want to wait, just let us know and we will ship out what we have in our bulk warehouse.

What is your policy on animal testing? 
None of our products are tested on animals.

How much caffeine is in your tea?
The caffeine content of tea varies depending on a number of factors, including the variety and age of the leaves, the size of the leaves, the environment where they were grown, and the method of steeping. Generally speaking, the longer a tea is steeped, the higher its caffeine content. Because black tea is often steeped longer than green or white, it’s considered to have the most caffeine — even though the dry leaves of black teas aren’t higher in caffeine than those of green teas. The general range is 15-70 mg caffeine per cup.

Is Mountain Maus’ Remedies  a gluten-free facility?
Gluten allergy and sensitivity is a growing problem, and many people try to avoid gluten in their diets. While spices and herbs are naturally gluten-free, we do not test for gluten in our products because we grown our own herbs and spices and know what we package and offer does not contain gluten..

Do MountainMaus’ Remedies products contain any genetically modified ingredients (GMOs)?
100% of our products do not contain any genetically engineered ingredients

Are your products irradiated? 
Mountain Maus’ Remedies has always been against using irradiation for sterilization of spices, herbs and foods, and we do not use any ingredients or carry any products that are irradiated. The alteration of molecules due to irradiation and the accompanying uncertain effects in consuming irradiated products are issues and concerns to our company. We chose to run an Organically grown operation using companion planting system and DO NOT

Do your products contain MSG?
We do not add monosodium glutamate (MSG) to any of our products. (FDA regulations require that if MSG is added to a product it must be identified as “monosodium glutamate” on the label.)

Why isn’t there any nutritional information on your basil?
Most of our single ingredient spices (that is, basil, fennel, cumin, etc.) don't contain any reportable nutrients (amounts significant enough to warrant reporting according to FDA food labeling regulations). (See the reportable nutrients FAQ for more info.)

How are your products processed?
Each herb is harvested and processed separately. After the leaves or roots have thoroughly dried, they are stripped from the stems into a large container. We remove broken stems and other foreign material, sift the mixture through a coarse screen. If it is not thoroughly cleaned by the first screening, we give it a second screening which leaves nothing but the herb leaves. We then take the dried herb leaves and store them in tightly sealed  food grade container in a dark place away from the direct rays of the sun. Every harvesting item is then wash down and sanitized before we process a new herb. Because some customers prefer “Certified Organic” herbs, we do not regulate the methods our suppliers use to grow, harvest, and process the products we purchase from them. Processing may vary from crop to crop and amongst suppliers. The way in which a suppliers process their crops is often considered proprietary. They determine the best method to produce a high quality product, and we then test it to ensure that our quality specifications are met.

How can I tell if my herbs and spices are still good?
Our spices and blends are freshness dated — the date the product is best used by for maximum freshness is printed on the bottom of each sealed package label. Check that date for unopened products. For opened packaged products and bulk products, follow the guidelines below:

General Guidelines for the Shelf Life of Botanical Products

The potency of botanical products fades over time at different rates. Grinding exposes more surface area to the air, so ground spices lose their freshness more quickly. As you can see in the table below, different parts of the plant age differently as well.

Whole herbs, spices and seasoning blends

Leaves and flowers

1 to 2 years

Seeds and barks

2 to 3 years

Roots

3 years

 

Ground herbs, spices and seasoning blends

Leaves

1 year

Seeds and barks

1 year

Roots

2 years

 

Whole herbs, spices and seasoning blends

Vanilla beans

2 years

Others

4 years

How long do teas stay good?
Correctly stored tea should be good for up to a year.

At what temperature are your herbs and spices dried or processed?
The herbs we organically grow ourselves are stored in a controlled environment of 66 degrees. We do not regulate the temperatures our suppliers use to process our products. They determine the best method to produce high quality product. We then test the product we receive to ensure that quality. Many of our herbs and spices are also steam sterilized to ensure your safety. Dried herbs and spices, unless grown and processed at home on a very small scale, should not be considered adherent to a raw foods diet.

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