UPDATE: Well, I may not have to make the return trip to the store after all. A second search on the OMRI website DID turn up this product as OMRI listed. My first go-round, I searched for "Miracle Gro" and got no results. A search for "Scotts," however, turned up a listing updated on 6/3/2011 that includes Miracle-Gro Organic Choice All Purpose Organic Plant Food.
Scotts Miracle Gro "Organic Choice" is not certified organic. Instead, the company uses deceptive marketing to fool consumers.
We all get fooled by deceptive marketing tactics, and my husband and I are no exception. He hit the store over the weekend and came back with two bottles of Miracle Gro "Organic Choice" plant food for our flowers, herbs and veggies. When I saw the Miracle Gro seal on the bottle, I got a little bit suspicious and looked for an official USDA Organic seal, but there was none to be found.
EDIT: I talked to an organic farming friend, and he said the certification to look for is Organic Materials Research Institute (OMRI). This product did not have that certification, either.
The back of the bottle proclaims that it contains 6 percent total nitrogen "Derived from fermented sugar beet molasses." Thanks to lobbying from Monsanto, the majority of sugar beets here in the U.S. are genetically modified, so unless these were organic beets, that means this fertilizer was probably genetically modified, too. I'm sure that Scotts would have mentioned it if their beets were organic, since they plastered the term on the front of the packaging.
The bottle doesn't say what makes up the other 94 percent of the ingredients.
So, how can Scotts put "organic" on the label when the product isn't organic? Easy! "Organic" just means "derived from living matter." They didn't say they were USDA Certified Organic, which would hold them to a completely different set of standards. It's up to us as consumers to know the difference, and marketers prey on our good intentions with confusing labeling like this.
Tricky move, Scotts! Luckily, my smart husband saved the receipt.
Have you guys run across any sneaky examples of greenwashing in the garden center? Share away in the comments!
UPDATE: Acording to my friend Justin, "this also applies to the potting soil and other Scotts "Organic" line of products."