Ooooby's Guide to terms like Organic, Spray-free, Local....

In New Zealand, terms such as organic and spray-free are unregulated and often confusing. To help you understand what they mean, we have defined them below to explain how we label and classify food on our site.

What does Organic mean?

Food from certified or uncertified organic farms. No chemical sprays or artificial fertilisers are used whatsoever. Only organic approved sprays and soil amendments used. Organic animals are fed organic feed and meet the high organic standards of animal welfare. Ooooby will classify a farm undergoing certification (and fully practicing organic methods) as organic if we have thoroughly vetted the farm and have witnessed documentation about soil non-toxicity. Any non-certified organic farm will have been vetted thoroughly by Ooooby. Certified or uncertified is clearly written on each farm’s profile.

What does Regenerative mean?

Often called “beyond organic” because organic standards only guarantee non-toxicity and animal welfare. Regenerative farming methods restore and regenerate the landscape – whereby soil is built, biodiversity is increased and heritage and native plant varieties are often used. The farm gets better every year because of it has a net-positive impact on the environment. Thus, the quality of produce or product continually improves and becomes increasingly nutrient-dense. Examples of regenerative farms included biodynamic, permaculture, holistic management. There is a biodynamic certification available in NZ, which we are always pleased to see. However other regenerative farming methods are commonly uncertified organic because organic standards strictly forbid the use of any non-certified products. This limits cutting-edge innovations such as seaweed emulsions, compost teas, farm-made biofertilisers and compost, which regenerative farms typically use.

What does Sustainable mean?

This is not a term that Ooooby uses to classify food and farms because it is frequently used for “greenwashing”. In theory, sustainable should mean organic or regenerative, however it is often used to classify food that is from uncertified organic farms (at best). Ooooby will typically classify “sustainable” as either “uncertified organic”, “spray free” instead or possible even “regenerative”, if it truly is beyond organic.

What does Spray-free mean?

Means farming practices are not 100% organic. No chemical sprays are used. Certified organic sprays or home-made solutions like water and dish-soap may be used. Artificial NPK fertilisers are often used. Ooooby will classify an uncertified organic farm as spray-free rather than organic to be conservative if they have not yet been thoroughly vetted by us.

What does Conventional mean?

Uses chemical sprays, fertilisers and environmentally unsound farming methods. Except under rare circumstances and always clearly marked, no conventional produce is currently sold on Ooooby. One exception may be a self-proclaimed spray-free farm that doesn’t meet Ooooby’s standard of spray free. For example, a crop may not be directly sprayed, but the farm uses chemical sprays elsewhere on the same property. We consider this conventional.

What does Local mean?

Most produce in New Zealand is “local” because it comes from New Zealand and the term is widely used (and in our opinion, mis-used). Ooooby considers food as local only if:

  1. it’s from South Island for our Christchurch Hub and North Island for our Auckland Hub, AND
  2. it’s from a farm or a producer that Ooooby has a direct relationship with. No middlemen. No anonymity.

What does Vegan mean?

According to the Vegan Society, vegan means:

"A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals." 

In practice, this means no products containing meat, dairy, eggs, honey or that have been tested on animals.

What does Gluten Free mean?

Gluten Free means products made in a certified gluten free facility suitable for coeliacs.

Gluten Friendly products may be suitable for people that are gluten intolerant or wish to avoid gluten. It means that a product contains no ingredients that contain gluten, but processed in a facility where cross contamination is possible. Best practises are used, but no guarantees are made.

Which one is "best"?

There is no easy answer to this question because it depends on your values.

At Ooooby, we believe it's super important to eat pure food free of toxins (organic).

Furthermore, we prefer organic food that is local. When food is Out Of Our Own Backyards, it's much easier to be confident of quality. We visit local farms and observe them with our senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. We have personal relationships with growers based on trust and transparency.

Finally, we agree with Hippocrates when he said:

"Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food".

Food must be nutrient-dense to give our bodies everything it needs to be healthy. It is impossible for healthy food to come from unhealthy soil - and so we highly value regenerative farms that build soil life, soil diversity, and works with the powerful force of nature instead of fighting against it.

We're a small business, and Ooooby actually allows us to continue in the work that we want to do. It keeps us in business basically. [...] They are really good at paying on time, which is a big thing.

— Marilyn & Bill (Fruit Suppliers)


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