Certification allows for transparent and accountable production methods and serves as a guide consumer choice. Stringent certification procedures and ongoing audits ensure that complying producers are not compared with inferior products or production methods. Certification systems, however, are not without its critics; certification is an expensive and timely process, is not always universally understood by the consumer, and often lacks global uniformity.
In Australia, one of the better known (and increasingly more popular) certification labels is the organic label. According to Australian Certified Organic, “Organic systems work in harmony with nature, keeping harmful chemicals out of our land, water and air, creating a healthy environment rich in wildlife, woodlands and nutrients. The organic standards place great emphasis on building and maintaining healthy soil, nutritious crops and animal welfare.” Certifications such as the organic label seek to obtain some form of excellence that sets them apart from their contemporary competitors.
In today’s market place, consumers are bombarded with differing labels and certifications. Coffee comes with a variety of certification labels; rainforest alliance, fair trade, organic, bird friendly and UTZ certified. The consumer is faced with several choices in the egg market; barn laid, caged, organic, free ranged, and RSPCAapproved. Meat consumers must wade through a certification mine field also; Angus, halal, free ranged, organic, and grain fed. While lack of education may result in consumer confusion, environmentally and ethically aware consumers are able to decipher this certification jungle.
In our household, we are continually striving to increasingly our understanding about product certifications and consumer choice. We have spent the better part of three years to that end. While the number of friends who partake in our interest is steadily increasing, we are still a very small minority. I have started a blog that attempts to share our knowledge of ethical and environmentally eating practices driven by certification standards and environmental information. These young blogs (about a month old) now have a combined subscribed readership of more than 200. The desire for better labelling and certification understanding is out there, and I question whether education efforts are meeting all of its potential target audience.
- Why We Are Not Certified Organic (usemeproducts.wordpress.com)
- Lily Organics Gets Certified…Organic, That Is (prweb.com)
- Global Organics Introduces “EcoSocial” Certified Organic Sugar (prweb.com)
- Interest in organic farming grows (newsok.com)
- Grocery Guide: Buying meat (nathanwjackson.wordpress.com)
Auld, G. (2010). Assessing Certification as a Governance: Effects and Broader Consequences for Coffee. The Journal of Environment and Development, 19(2), 215 – 241.
Aust-Meat (2011a). Halal Information. Retrieved 14 April, 2012, from http://www.ausmeat.com.au/auditing-accreditation/halal-information.aspx
Aust-Meat (2011b). LPAS – Grain Feed Lamb. Retrieved 14 April, 2012, from http://www.ausmeat.com.au/auditing-accreditation/lpas-grain-fed-lamb.aspx
Australian Certified Organic (undate-a). Benefits of Certification. Retrieved 14 April, 2012, from http://www.australianorganic.com.au/index.asp?Sec_ID=132
Australian Certified Organic (undate-b). Organic Integrity. Retrieved 14 April, 2012, from http://www.australianorganic.com.au/
Australian Certified Organic (undate-c). What is Organic Certification? Retrieved 14 April, 2012, from http://www.australianorganic.com.au/index.asp?Sec_ID=131
Blackthorn, R. (2012a). The Environmental Rhi-Source. Retrieved from http://envirorhi.wordpress.com/
Blackthorn, R. (2012b). Rhianna’s Guide to Ethical Eating. Retrieved from http://mizrhi.wordpress.com/
Certified Australian Angus Beef (2011). CAAB Program. Retrieved 14 April, 2012, from http://www.caab.com.au/Content.asp?regID=10846&id=1060
Coffee and Conservation (2010). Quick guide to coffee certifications Retrieved 14 April, 2012, from http://www.coffeehabitat.com/certification-guide/
Good Egg Guide (2011). Choosing between free-range, barn-laid, organic and cage-free eggs Retrieved 14 April, 2012, from http://goodeggguide.com/2011/07/choosing-between-free-range-barn-laid-organic-and-cage-free-eggs/