For a while now, certified organic has pretty much been the gold standard for ensuring all sorts of things we purchase—from food and supplements to clothing and personal care products—are produced with human and planetary health in mind. Considering news headlines these days include the likes of massive lawsuits over the health impacts of commonly used herbicides and scary stats about the environmental impact of fast fashion, choosing organic products feels like a vote for a cleaner conscience and stable future.
Continuing to prioritize purchasing certified organic products from brands you trust is certainly a good idea (if you have the privilege to do so), but if you want to take your Earth-protecting efforts to the next level, there’s a newer certification that should be on your radar: Regenerative Organic Certified®.
The Difference Between Regenerative Organic Certified® And Certified Organic
A quick disclosure before we get started here: This is a basic overview of what’s involved in the cultivation, processing, and certification of organic foods and other products. If we full-on went down the rabbit hole into such a nuanced topic in this article, we’d never come back up.
With that said, to understand why Regenerative Organic Certified® is so cool, you need a general sense of what USDA Organic is all about. In a nutshell, to obtain certification as USDA Organic, crops and animal foods have to fulfill a set of criteria believed to ladder up to a healthier, more natural end product. A few examples? The land certified organic crops are grown on has to be free of prohibited substances (like certain synthetic chemicals) for at least three years before those crops are harvested; genetic engineering is a no-go, as is any use of sewage sludge (which yes, is apparently a thing in conventional modern agriculture); and livestock must be fed 100 percent organic feed and have year-round access to the outdoors. We can probably all agree that these are good things for everyone involved, right?
Of course, if you search for criticisms of that USDA Organic label, you’ll find them—but that’s a topic for another day. Nothing is perfect, after all! However, as many environmental activists would argue, creating systems of producing food and other goods that truly minimize harm to the world around us—and even work to actively regenerate that world—requires efforts beyond those captured by the USDA Organic criteria.
That’s exactly where Regenerative Organic Certified® comes in. The goal of this new certification is to go above and beyond any other single certification out there to capture “the highest standards for organic agriculture in the world, with stringent requirements for soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness,” according to the website of the Regenerative Organic Alliance, the nonprofit that created the certification.
Consider Regenerative Organic Certified® the Holy Grail of certifications, signifying that you can trust in the care put into each step required to produce whatever you’re buying. Think of restorative farming practices that build soil and ensure animals can live peacefully, as well as healthy working conditions and fair wages for all humans involved.
“Today’s farming practices aren’t sustainable; they’re harming our health and the health of the planet,” says Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., D.C., C.N., a doctor of natural medicine and the co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, whose latest line of supplements are ROC™. “Regenerative Organic Certified® favors regenerative agriculture practices that rebuild the soil, sequester carbon, and enhance biodiversity. It isn’t new; it’s ancient and it’s just the right way to farm.”
Essentially, if you want to make sure a food or product you’re buying comes from operations that really do the most possible to look out for the health of the planet and all who call it home, look for that Regenerative Organic Certified® seal.
One detail worth noting? You might notice that there are three different levels of Regenerative Organic Certified®: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Unsurprisingly, the requirements become increasingly stringent as you work your way up the ladder. For example, while a Bronze-level operation has to rotate at least three crops on any given piece of its farm (crop rotation is important for maintaining and building soil health), a Gold-level operation must rotate seven (including one crop that specifically works to rebalance levels of nitrogen in the soil).
The Regenerative Organic Certified® was created by a group of “experts in farming, ranching, soil health, animal welfare, and farmer and worker fairness” who came together to form a nonprofit called the Regenerative Organic Alliance. You may have heard of its three founders before: Patagonia, Dr. Bronner’s, and the Rodale Institute.
Their mission? To fuel a change in agricultural practices around the world and address issues like factory farming, crumbling economies in rural areas, and the destruction conventional farming continues to have on the environment.
They noticed that consumers searching for the most responsible, regenerative foods and products had to navigate lots of different certifications addressing various aspects of producing those goods. There are certifications like USDA Organic to check the box for healthier farming practices, Certified Humane for protecting the quality of life of livestock, and Fair Trade Certified to look after the treatment of workers involved in farming and sourcing. Honestly, it can all get a little confusing.
And it’s just as much as a cluster for the people creating these foods and products. Typically, obtaining various certifications to show the world that a product is created with the well-being of all involved in mind is a huge undertaking for farmers and brands. So, in addition to making shopping for the best-of-the-best sustainable products easier for consumers, Regenerative Organic Certified® also provides a clear, streamlined path for the people behind those products to let shoppers know that they’re working hard to “do it right.” It’s a win-win, really.
If you’re always doing your homework on the food, clothing, and personal products you buy because you want to make sure they’re as good for the planet as they are delicious, stylish, or effective, Regenerative Organic Certified® is essentially a one-and-done assurance that you’ve got the good stuff (like the really good stuff).
No other certification out there right now is as all-encompassing or ambitious as Regenerative Organic Certified®, so you know brands with this pretty little emblem on their products are truly working their hardest to do right by you, the environment, and other living beings.
“In the age of greenwashing, many companies try to protect a climate-friendly image, but it isn’t always genuine,” says Axe. “At Ancient Nutrition, we are very serious about our climate-friendly initiatives—and now we have achieved the highest standard certification for our newest line of products: Regenerative Organic Certified®.”
Cool news: Ancient Nutrition is the very first dietary supplement brand to offer a line of ROC™ products.) Check out their latest— including the Super Veggies capsules and Gut Recovery Probiotics—at The Vitamin Shoppe to make your regimen that much healthier for the world around us. And, fun fact: Since the ingredients in these supplements are grown in the most nutrient-dense soil possible, they have more potent health benefits to offer you, Axe says. Again, how’s that for a win-win?