What's in a Label?

When it comes to choosing food - or the ingredients it's prepared with - it sometimes feels like there's an ever-deepening morass of terminology to wade through. For instance, we've covered the deceptive use of "ceremonial" as a marketing term in selling matcha. But when it comes to using organic as a descriptor, surely that's more cut and dried, right? Well, maybe!

The answer to that depends a little on your answer to the following question: is an ingredient that grew wild in the forest organic?

What Does Organic Labeling Mean?

Organic labeling is currently a certification that can only be applied to cultivated ingredients that are grown organically (i.e., grown without use of prohibited substances or practices in soil that has been free from prohibited substances for over 3 years). You may have caught that we stressed the word cultivated. The reasons for this are both simple and complex: in the US (and most countries), in order to label your products as organic you must have a certification from the USDA that requires multiple inspections, fees, etc. Of course, since ingredients grown in the wild are not cultivated and therefore cannot be reliably inspected, this precludes them from organic labeling, even if by definition they are grown without pesticides or the use of other prohibited substances. Enter: wild foraged.

What Does "Wild Foraged Ingredients" Mean?

Wild foraged ingredients include mushrooms, shoots, berries, leaves, bark, herbs, etc. that are collected from sources in the wild - like our Adirondack Chaga. Foraging has of course been part of humanity's food culture since the beginning, but recently foraging has once again become popular or even trendy as food culture moves away from fast and processed foods towards slow, whole foods.

Wild foraging is exactly what it sounds like: collecting ingredients from nature in their natural habitat. An excellent example of this is our Wild Taiga, a blend from the boreal forest that would be very difficult to cultivate conventionally or organically. Instead, an herb farm in Québec sustainably hand forages these ingredients from nature for their declicious aroma and flavor as well as their beneficial properties.

Does Wild Foraged Mean Organic?

This brings us back around to the question: is an ingredient that grew wild in the forest organic?

By layman's standards, yes! For labeling purposes? No. For this reason, we make the distinction on our website and packaging and otherwise invite you to come to your own conclusions.

Wild Foraged at Saratoga Tea & Honey Co.

Explore Wild Foraged Teas & Tisanes