organics for consumers
Wondering where to buy organic food or other products? Unsure how to identify authentic organic produce? Having doubts about whether or not you can afford to go organic? You’re in the right place! Check out our FAQs below.
The best place to find a full range of organic products – food, beverages, health care, cosmetics, gardening supplies – is at a specialist organic store. Cities and most large towns have them, along with smaller tourist towns like Takaka and Wanaka.
Most supermarkets now stock a limited range of fresh organic produce, and a small range of organic canned and packaged foods. Some are better than others at stocking and promoting organic options, so shop around to see where you can get the best choice at the best price.
Farmers' markets are a good place to buy the freshest organic produce – but check whether the seller is really organic first.
Look for the Certified Organic logo from a reputable organic certifying company. The two labels you are most likely to see on New Zealand-produced foods are BioGro and Asure Quality. Food (and other products, such as cosmetics) certified by these two organisations are produced to internationally recognised and audited organic standards.
Other logos you can trust are OFNZ (Organic Farm NZ, which certifies for the domestic market only) and Demeter, the international symbol of biodynamic products.
On imported products you will see a variety of 'Certified Organic' logos, and not all of them (and some of the other New Zealand 'certified' logos) are authentic.
Certified organic producers and processors are given a unique number by their certifying agency when they become certified. If you are in any doubt about whether the producer and their products are genuine then look them up on the certifier's website. (If the alleged certifier does not have a website, or has one that indicates that its primary business is not organic certification – be very wary.)
Potential or actual fraudulent abuse of the term organic occurs when the market is poorly regulated. OANZ is currently working with government agencies and retailers to find the most effective and efficient way to regulate the market in New Zealand so that consumers are better protected. Consumers can help OANZ and themselves by reporting any questions they have about the validity of an organic logo or claim to OANZ – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are buying products claiming to be organic from a market stall, roadside stall or farm shop and there is no certification logo and number displayed, ask if the vendor has one and what it is. If they don’t have one, they may still be genuinely organic but have credible reasons why they have not sought certification (producing too little, doing it as a hobby, etc.). You will have to make your own call on whether their reasons are convincing and their products are the real thing.
Consumers are often concerned about organic food costing more, and some even wonder whether they are just being taken advantage of. The facts are that organic food is sometimes more expensive because it is genuinely more costly to produce a particular food (e.g glasshouse-grown capsicums) without using chemicals.
But for most fresh organic foods that's not the reason, and the usual reason of market supply and demand applies. If you only buy foods that are in season you won't pay much more for organic; sometimes it will be the same, or even less.
See How to go organic on a tight budget for how you can eat well and still stay within budget.
If eating 100% organic is still not an option, then buy organic alternatives to the foods which are most likely to contaminated with pesticides and additives. These are fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, and processed foods. (Check out the Safe Food Campaign’s list of the most likely-to-be-contaminated ones to avoid.)