By Cosmos Burnigham

Synthetic micronutrients

Watch out for any organically listed product that claims micronutrients and has questionable natural ingredients. They probably aren’t truly organic, as the product is intended to be used only after a documented deficiency.

The use of acids in fish stabilization

Be suspicious of any fish fertilizer with high phosphate levels, as synthetic sulfuric and phosphoric acid are allowed to “adjust pH” in order to stabilize the finished product to a certain point, but certainly can still be claimed on a fertilizer label.

Potassium Hydroxide as a sea plant processing agent

Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) is the highly caustic agent you might commonly find in a pH up product. Be wary of any kelp product that claims high potassium levels and doesn’t talk specifically about enzyme type hydrolysis, as potassium hydroxide is allowed as a processing agent.

Shady manufacturers

Although the system is cleaner and better regulated than ever before, the organic industry has suffered from cases of straight fraud, such as manufacturers spiking synthetic nitrogen in liquid nitrogen products. Be reasonably suspicious and report to the certifying agency if you have reason to suspect fraud.

Soils containing non-virgin compost

Many companies use green waste that is comprised of everything from yard waste to construction scraps to industrial paper inputs.

Names that have the word “organic”

As the law is currently interpreted, a brand name typically cannot contain the word organic if the product is not on the official list. But in some cases, the name of a conventional company can contain the word organic. Companies use “mash ups” or modified words that are intended to sound like organic.

In-person and direct-deceptive marketing

Many companies have made claims that their products are organic and built “whisper” campaigns to promote their products as organic—when in fact they are not listed and not organic. Being part of the system does at least increase the regulation and review and is more difficult for nonprofessional manufacturers.

pedigrees of cannabis-specific certifying agencies

New entrants in this marketing arena aren’t allowed to use organic and have no legal requirement to follow the system for what we now define as organic. Some have also displayed potential conflicts of interest and cozy associations with one manufacturer or another.