A Case For Strengthening Certified Organics

Posted by Karen Barnett on

World Health Day on April 7th 2018 also marked the 70th anniversary of the World Health Organisation. We all understand the importance of having access to quality health services. We also recognise the enormous impact that a healthy environment has on humanity and all living things.

Supporting organic food production is recognized by the United Nations as a significant way we can contribute to a healthy environment.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, the organic food industry was composed of mainly small, independent farmers, selling locally. "Organically grown" was a personal guarantee based on a direct relationship between farmer and consumer. Formal organic certification was introduced as a way to extend that trust beyond the farm gate through a third-party certifier.


 Ethiopian Limou Premium Certified Organic Fairtrade Coffee.

Third-party organic certification has made an enormous contribution to humanity's understanding of the entire food supply chain from producer to final consumer. 


Sustainable consumption and production aims at “doing more and better with less,” increasing net welfare gains from economic activities by reducing resource use, degradation and pollution along the whole lifecycle while increasing quality of life. It involves different stakeholders, including businesses, consumers, policymakers, researchers, scientists, retailers, media, and development cooperation agencies, among others.


 Ethiopian Limou Premium Certified Organic Fairtrade Coffee.

It also requires a systemic approach and cooperation among actors operating in the supply chain, from producer to final consumer. It involves engaging consumers through awareness-raising and education on sustainable consumption and lifestyles, providing consumers with adequate information through standards and labels and engaging in sustainable public procurement, among others. UN Sustainable Development Goals

There are challenges in the organic certification system. Sometimes these challenges are due to self-interest and express themselves as notions of relativism or self-justification. At a basic level, we are overriding our true sense of what is right and wrong to achieve something we desire or to avoid something that is hard.

Sumatra Gayo Cafe Femenino Certified Organic Fairtrade Coffee

It is tempting to shortcut the Organic Certification system in order to save costs and administrative headaches. Maintaining organic certification is hard but when we bypass the certification, we are eroding decades of progress in building an extraordinary global system that means we can have a trusting farm gate experience with every farmer in the world. 

For example, say you are buying produce from my local farmer and have a conversation with them about whether they use chemicals, trust is built based on the conversation and relationship. Now imagine trying to do this with farmers that don’t live anywhere near you! That is how certification extends that trusting relationship to every farmer Montville Coffee purchase from. We trace the product back to the farm and know that even though the farmer is on the other side of the world, they are part of a system that guarantees that quality and through 3rd party inspections are the norm, to deliver exceptional coffee.


Sumatra Gayo Cafe Femenino Certified Organic Fairtrade Coffee

Images: Kris McDonald, Oromia, Ethiopia 2014 and Montville Coffee, Sumatra, Indonesia 2016 

*Further Reading: Check out Montville Coffee B Corp for more information about our commitment to transparency through third-party certifications.