Guides  |  Hemp 101

USDA Organic Certification for CBD: What It Means...And Why It Matters

USDA Organic Certification for CBD: What It Means...And Why It Matters

Have you noticed that organic-certified CBD can be difficult to find? There’s a reason for that. But to understand why organic CBD is something worth seeking, it’s important to understand what that certification really means. Here’s why USDA Certified Organic Certification is so important. 


What does organic even mean?

“Organic” as we know the term to mean today dates back to the 1940s, when a farmer named J.I. Rodale used his very own Organic Farming and Gardening magazine to champion the organic cause. A more specific definition wouldn’t come along until 2002, when Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and came up with some clearer terms about what could and couldn’t be labeled organic. So while other buzzwords, like “all natural,” you may encounter can be a bit ambiguous—and are loosely, if at all, regulated—the classification of an item as “organic” is intended to carry a bit more weight in terms of how that product was produced.

This definition, as outlined by the United States Department of Agriculture, has several parts. Organic products must be made in accordance with approved (organic) methods, be made without synthetic methods and/or ingredients, and be entirely free from genetically modified organisms—AKA GMOs.

All these regulations make organic farming radically different from conventional farming. There are restrictions not only on substances used while farming a given crop, but also on the treatment of the land being farmed in the time leading up to the current harvest. Land may not have any prohibited substances applied to it for at least 3 years before a crop can qualify for organic certification. 

Some of the other farming practices that the USDA prohibits for organic certification include genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge, instead encouraging the management of soil fertility and crop nutrients through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops, supplemented with animal and crop waste materials.

In it her words, organic farmers must use techniques that emphasize working with their soil to yield their crop—not the methods of conventional farming that force unnatural circumstances on land. 

These regulations extend to pest control, prohibiting the use of harsh, chemical pesticides in favor of management practices that harness physical, mechanical, and biological controls.

For hemp farmers, organic certification by the USDA was not even possible until the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the regulated production of the hemp plant. This has finally opened the door for better regulation of hemp grown and sold in the US.


The problems with conventional hemp farming

In 2017, a scathing study came out. Its findings? That up to 70% of CBD products were mislabeled. And in 2020 an FDA report confirmed, contrary to many people’s hopes and dreams, that things hadn’t gotten much better. The report, which sought “to determine the extent to which products are mislabeled or adulterated,” found that only 46 of the 147 CBD products it tested fell within 20% of their label’s stated CBD content.

Long story short, the CBD industry desperately needs closer regulation, regulation which organic certification easily provides. 

There are other reasons to go organic, too. Conventional hemp farming is fraught with all sorts of problems, and they’re only made worse by hemp’s status as an accumulator plant that binds to toxins in the soil. Hemp is basically a giant sponge that pulls more and more out of the ground as it grows bigger and bigger. This quality makes it excellent for nitrogen fixing (a type of soil remediation), but it’s also a double-edged sword. Hemp grown in poor soil will almost certainly be filled with impurities, and hemp fields driven through by farmers in gas-guzzling tractors will almost certainly soak up some gasoline-related compounds at some point. Not good! 

Even seemingly-safe insecticides and pesticides may not be all that safe for a plant that bio-accumulates as much as hemp.  If your hemp product isn’t organic, you simply don’t know what kinds of chemicals may have been sprayed on it while growing...


Toast’s USDA Organic Certification

With all this in mind, we’re incredibly excited—not to mention proud—to share that Toast’s Full Spectrum Hemp Oil has received organic certification from the USDA. This certification applies to all of our Oils, including the oil infused into our Chocolate Supplements made in collaboration with FINE & RAW.

What about the rest of our products, like our Emerald Pre-Rolls? While those have not been tested by the USDA, our hemp flower has been Oregon Tilth Certified Organic.

Upholding high quality standards and being open about our sourcing are central to our mission as a brand, and we’re ready to help pave the way for greater transparency in the hemp and CBD industry.