What is the significance of the “OMRI Listed” label I see on some gardening products?
Think of the OMRI logo as an organic seal of approval. The initials stand for Organic Materials Review Institute, a nonprofit group set up to evaluate products based on the standards of the USDA’s National Organic Program. OMRI reviews materials that are used in the growing and processing of food crops (as well as fiber crops). Those that are added to the OMRI list can be used when growing foods that will be sold as organic.
Earning the right to display the OMRI logo isn’t easy. OMRI inspectors review product formulas and even visit manufacturing plants to assess compliance with National Organic Program standards. The USDA officially recognizes OMRI decisions.
OMRI’s list of approved materials (presented in a searchable database at omri.org) includes brand-name products as well as generic materials, such as sphagnum moss, Epsom salts, and alfalfa meal. Some products are approved for certain uses but not others. Organic growers must follow the OMRI guidelines meticulously if they are to maintain their organic certification.
Home gardeners are well advised to look for the OMRI logo, too, when they’re shopping for fertilizers or other gardening products. Unlike some other marketing buzzwords that appear on labels, like “natural” or “sustainable,” the OMRI listing carries weight. —Doug Hall