Organic Spices and Herbs Line

Gcmarketbby09 078 We have followed the take off in organic and sustainable food products with great interest over the last ten years. We have been unsure of what our role should be here. We are big proponents of shopping locally whenever possible and it is one of our great weekly pleasures to shop at our local farmer’s market.
Yet if you were only to cook with locally grown products, your food would be sadly lacking, as you would be spiceless. The climate in this country simply allows for the growth of herbs, but never spices. The third world countries that spices grow in, are not necessarily on the organic band wagon yet, and in some scenarios, we feel it is not our place to force our American demands upon these poor farmers. We have also made it our lifelong mission to bring you the highest level of quality in our spices, would we find organic spices with our desired level of quality?

Over the last decade, I have been excited many times to receive emails about wonderful organic spices from various companies, only to be extremely let down when the samples arrived. I kept these on hand, when customers really wanted organic I let them taste our organic samples and compare to the product we sell, not surprisingly, no one wanted to sacrifice taste for organic. This past spring, while at the ASTA conference, we were thrilled to find out how proactive our organization has become in this area. Recognizing that this is the future, there are several organizations who have spearheaded the growing of organic spices in a manner that allows farmers to enter into organic co-ops with infrastructure that does not bankrupt the farmer in the process. And there is a focus on quality product as well. So we are extremely pleased to begin our product line with a few products that have the quality we have always tried to provide our customers. We foresee this line expanding as more growers come around to this way of thinking. We also have to see what our customers think and how they react. In the case of organic spices, you really are not getting an overwhelmingly better tasting product, and as spices are used in such small amounts, that they do not provide nutriative value into your diet. The costs associated with organic certification is going to naturally make them cost more than non certified spices. It is my opinion that in the match up of organic and spices, it really boils down to removing chemicals from your food intake, even in the infinitesimal portion that spices might contribute, AND taking care of our planet Earth. Are people willing to pay more to do that? I would like to think yes, but time will tell.

  • Hunter O.

    What makes the “Organic sea salt” “organic”?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1217448805s27488 Patty Erd

    In the case of sea salt, the salt is inherently organic, but it has to get certified organic. This is why organic does not necessarily make sense in the spice world, at least for certain products, like salt. If you were already buying a product essentially organic, do you really want to pay extra for organic certification? However, on the flip side, it is important to have organizations out there that do this certification; otherwise anyone could just stamp an “organic” stamp on a product and sell it as such. We watch with great interest this organic evolution. For the most part, our goal is to give the customer what they want, with gentle guidance!

  • Wren R

    Thank you for your sensible, level-headed approach to this topic. I believe the future is in organics and fair compensation to growers; however, there are lots of people who are looking only at the monetary opportunity to themselves and don’t really care about establishing a strong organics program that offers quality as well as sustainabie practices.
    The reason I buy all my spice from The Spice House — and will continue to do so — is because of the dedication to quality. (OK, the truly excellent customer service helps, too.)
    What I want to see is someone – anyone — to do some real investigative reporting into some of these certifying organizations and show consumers who is really doing what they say and who is simply filler their coffers for the privelige of selling a trendy logo. We did a lot of reseach into a certain much-touted entity who would like people to think that their logo promises coffee farmers a higher price on goods. What we found convinced us we wanted nothing to do with that organization and that we would rather support other methods of supporting growers that include rewarding quality, providing them with a solid infrastructure that really did suit thier needs, and not paying the majority of licensing fees to middlemen but directly to the growers.

  • Farmer Joe

    As a farmer and food enthusiast I know that the organic movement is a marketing ploy, differentiating a product to extract more value from the marketplace. There is no nutritional benefit, and no significant reduction in chemical exposure because the irrigation water is contaminated and even rain water has measurable and safe levels of many pesticides. If anything the organic movement provides false feeling of security that leads to food poisoning. A nasty salmonella outbreak in the NE USA was sourced back to contaminated organic spices from China (the granola type product was not cooked to food safe temperatures after the contaminate was added). Personally I rather see a spice that will not be cooked (like black pepper on my table) sterilized by a high energy irradiation process (cobalt 60 or electron beam “cold pasteurization”), a procedure prohibited under organic protocols.
    I would never buy nor recommend organic products because of the questionable ethics associated with purposefully reducing food production. Organic yields are normally far less than conventional yields, from 5-75% of conventional yields are typical in my personal experience with field peas, wheat, barley, oats, flax, mustard, apples, and sour cherries. Reducing food production on purpose when so many people starve to death is ethically questionable. The late great humanitarian and Noble prize winner Norman Borlaug was a noted supporter of this position.
    Further reading on the failings of organic food production include “Tomorrows Table: A Marriage Of Genetic Engineering And Organic Farming” by professors Ronald and Adamchak and “Whole Earth Discipline” by legendary environmentalist Stewart Brand.

  • http://www.dentist-orange.com Dentist Orange

    Great stuff you have here! Hi, I?m constantly searching for herb-related blogs and I stumbled your site. I found your blog on Google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work! Look forward to reading more from you in the future.
    – Shane