Hunt for Organic Deodorant Leads Chicago Man to Kitchen


Nathan Morin says he stopped wearing deodorant because he was “lazy and cheap.” But when he moved to Chicago and became a bicycle commuter, he rediscovered the need for some type of odor protection.

However, Morin couldn’t find a certified organic deodorant to fit his vegan lifestyle. That's when the search took a detour and led him to an unlikely place: the kitchen, where he began concocting his own recipe.

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All about organic

Nathan Morin says he is a man of his word. 

“I’m all about the front label claims I make,” he said. “When I say 100 percent natural, it’s 100 percent natural.”

Morin is the CEO of North Coast Organics, which produces handmade organic and vegan personal care products. He started the company in 2012 after he was unable to find certified organic deodorant on store shelves.

Thought only food could be organic? 

Alcohol, textiles, and personal care products can be organic as well, although it's not a simple classification. There are different categories of "organic."

“Many consumers do not know that there is a difference between wearing organic personal care products and a certified organic personal care product,” Morin said. “So my thought on that is that you don’t even have to have one organic ingredient in your product and you can call it organic.”

The difference is rooted in who regulates the product. The Food and Drug Administration administers personal care products, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates farming, agriculture, forestry, and food.

The USDA developed the National Organic Program and the standards for the different organic categories. This program initially excluded personal care products, which do not fall under the purview of the USDA.

As a consumer, Morin didn’t like taking this leap of faith when purchasing products labeled as organic, so he made sure to get certified within North Coast’s first year of operation.

“It was really important to me to prove to the consumer that I have a certified organic product; that my stuff is inspected by the USDA on an annual basis and… that I’m complying with the National Organic Program,” he said.

Label makers

Walking the aisles of a grocery store, consumers are hit with a slew of different terms: “all-natural,” “organic,” “preservative free” — and the list goes on. But are these packaging phrases interchangeable? See the table below to compare the differences.

100 percent organic Organic "Made with" organic Specific organic ingredients
Permission to use USDA organic label/claim Yes Yes No. May state "made with organic" for up to three listed ingredients or ingredient categories. No
Type of product Raw or processed agricultural products (Any processing aids must be organic) Raw or processed agricultural products Multi-ingredient agricultural products Multi-ingredient agricultural products that contain less than 70 percent certified organic content (excluding salt and water) don't need to be certified
Ingredients All ingredients must be certified organic All agricultural ingredients must be certified organic, except where specified on National List. Non-organic ingredients allowed per National List may be used, up to a combined total of 5 percent of non-organic content (excluding salt and water). At least 70 percent of the product must be certified organic ingredients. Any remaining agricultural products are not required to be orgnaically produced but must be produced without excluded methods (methods used to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth development that are not possible under natural conditions). Non-agricultural products must be specifically allowed on the National List. 
Product label Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel. Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel. Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.
Information panel Must identify organic ingredients (e.g., organic dill) or via asterisk or other mark on the information panel. Must identify organic ingredients (e.g., organic dill) or via asterisk or other mark on the information panel. Must identify organic ingredients (e.g., organic dill) or via asterisk or other mark on the information panel. May only list certified organic ingredients as organic in the ingredient list and the percentage of organic ingredients.

Alcohol

In addition to meeting the USDA organic requirements, alcoholic beverages must meet the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regulations, including sulfite labeling requirements. Any use of added sulfites means that wine is only eligible for the "made with" organic labeling category and may not use the USDA organic seal. Sulfites may only be added to wines "made with" organic grapes. Organic alcohol labels must be reviewed by an organic certifying agent and the TTB.

Textiles

If the finished product is certified organic and produced in full compliance with the USDA organic regulations, the entire product may be labeled organic and display the USDA organic seal.

If all instances of specific fibers in the finished product are certified organic, the label may claim the specific fibers are organic and identify the percentage of organic fibers. Textiles that meet the Global Organic Textile Standard may be sold as organic in the U.S.

Personal care products

While the FDA regulates cosmetics, body care, and personal care products, it does not regulate or define the term organic. If a cosmetic, body care product, or personal care product contains or is composed of agricultural ingredients, and can meet the USDA National Organic Program organic production, handling, processing and labeling standards, it may be eligible to be certified.


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