The contemporary discussion over organic vs. non-organic essential oils has never been so prevalent; the debate is certainly heating up and there are varying opinions on the idea that organic essential oils are ‘better’.
As you’re probably aware, organic farming is a common agricultural practice whereby you grow food, herbs and other produce as naturally as it would on its own, namely by refraining from using artificial pesticides or herbicides and indeed, a plethora of other potentially harmful chemical substances. There are several things organic growers do differently, such as not using genetically modified seeds, they use natural crop rotation to retain the health of the earth soil, and will often use creative ideas such as insect predator methods to keep bugs away, among other generally non-chemical, and less invasive ways to grow their produce.
Organic food is the healthier and more environmentally friendly option according to both public perception and proponents of organic farming. Proponents further argue that synthetic pesticides are damaging the earth and the health of the people who eat the food it is grown with. Crop rotation and less intensive farming allow for the regeneration of the soil and fewer problems resulting from mono-cropping, the practice of planting the same crop in the same soil year after year.
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements is the company that manages most of the world’s organic farming certification industry. They are not responsible for crediting specific farms around the globe, but do oversee the organic farming standards and other services. There are, as of now, about 108 countries out of around 195 that are members of the group.
One view: Organic essential oils are not Better
The biggest issue has been proving that there can be any pesticide residue in the final essential oils, additionally, supporters of conventional farming methods will refer to several arguments against the perception that organic is better. Such a stance is often made stronger by the ability to target specific pests more accurately, and to prevent potentially damaging crop diseases and molds to spread to humans. Furthermore, while it’s seemingly ok for most people in first world countries to have the privilege to complain about the quality of the oil, we also want to complain if it’s too costly, these debates are conflicting and often resort to the oils being harvested in developing countries – where organically grown methods are less intense and more costly to the area, which has lastly effects on the community.
Organic vs. Non-Organic Essential Oils
The main argument for using organic essential oils is that many people are concerned that there’s going to be some residue of pesticides left in the final oil that hits the store shelf. See this study for more details.
Essential oils are highly concentrated plant medicines. The thought is that by nature, they are subject to retaining high concentrations of contaminants if the produce and crops they are made from are grown with chemical or potentially toxic agricultural methods. Of course, if anyone thinks about the potential residues in this way, the positive benefits for using organic oils vs. non organic oils is pretty obvious. It’s the main reason most aromatherapy practitioners buy essential oils that have been derived from organically grown plants and herbs, it’s obviously not worth the risk for them.
The other premise for the use of organic essential oil is a more ‘pro organic’ stance adopted generally. For example, production requires a vast amount of crop material to yield a small quantity of essential oil. In the case of rose essential oil it takes 1000 kilos of rose petals to produce one liter of rose essential oil, that’s a lot of people exposed to potentially harsh chemicals.
Are they really Organic?
Ensuring organic status throughout the entire essential oil process is problematic and often requires further investigation from the consumer. At the moment, testing of the final essential oils is not required and is rarely, if ever, done. A wide variety of contamination can occur at many areas in the production method and process.
Overall, existing studies on Organic v. Non-Organic Essential Oils actually can’t indicate that organic essential oil is superior to non-organic essential oil and further research is needed.
How ever you choose to buy your essential oils is up to you of course, while the debate is still up for discussion on whether or not organic essential oils are better, but one thing is for certain; organic farming is always better for the environment, regardless of the organic vs non organic essential oil debate.