Organic yerba: What makes it different from traditional yerba? It’s healthier?
07 May 2022
Everything you need to know about this ecosystem-friendly production system
At a slow but steady pace, in recent years the shelves of supermarkets, health food stores and gourmet stores began to fill up with organic products: from wines to snacks, flours, noodles and even yerba mate.
But, what does it mean that a yerba is organic? Is your consumption healthier? Why are more and more people choosing these products? Together with Karla Johan, the well-known mate sommelier (@sommelierdemateok), we review each of the questions that many of us ask ourselves when we see the “Organic” logo on the herb package.
The ABC of organic weed: where to start
To start getting into the subject, you have to know that organic yerba mate is backed by a certification and control system that begins in the field, with a crop free of agrochemicals and pesticides. “For its production and subsequent certification, organic yerba mate follows the principles of sustainable agriculture to achieve long-term soil conservation and fertility for future generations,” says Karla Johan.
Throughout the process, from the plant to the shelf, the common denominator is the care and conservation of natural and environmental resources. Organic production in Argentina is regulated by Law 25,127, which includes a certification and control system for the producing fields and their environment.
Different national and international organizations certify production, but also various other aspects such as the use of recyclable materials in containers and packaging. In short, a comprehensive commitment to sustainability.
How to know if it is organic?
Therefore, if you prefer to consume organic yerba, it is very important to look at the seals that certify it as such on the packages, which you can find on the front or the back.
In Argentina, the Ministry of Agroindustry grants the “Argentina Organic” seal to products that minimize the use of non-renewable resources and do not use synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. At the same time, there are four certifiers authorized by Senasa, to carry out direct control: International Agricultural Organization (OIA), Argencert, Food Safety and Letis S.A.
Why is it better for the environment?
The difference between an organic herb and one that is not lies mainly in the care of the plant and the soil: first the land must be prepared, let it rest for a while from the use of agrochemicals and replace them with natural preparations, which are usually very effective, without affect the environment.
So, if we talk about the advantages of choosing an organic yerba mate over a traditional one, we have to be clear that it is a commitment to the ecosystem and the naturalness of the product: the consumption of organic yerba mate is centered on a philosophy of life, where the consumer chooses agroecological products to take care of their health and the environment.
Are we going to notice any difference?
According to Karla Johan, in the field of yerba mate, the use of agrochemicals -in general- is very low. Therefore, we will not notice marked differences between an organic or traditional yerba mate, as we can see in vegetables or fruits. Who doesn’t know the difference between an organic tomato and one that isn’t?!
In many cases, whether it is organic production or non-certified agroecological practices, less invasive techniques are used in the production process. This has an impact and it is that the authentic aromas and flavors of the infusion are maintained more.
In addition, we will be able to more naturally access the multiple biological properties of yerba mate, an infusion that stands out mainly for its antioxidant activity: in fact, it is more powerful than green tea and red wine. Hot primed mate, the most popular form of consumption, has great antioxidant power due to its high concentration of polyphenols, those responsible for improving the body’s natural defenses and protecting against cell damage. But it is also:
Source of vitamins and minerals. Yerba mate also contains numerous vitamins and minerals such as carotene, vitamins A, C, E, B-1, B-2, and B-compound.
It has an energizing effect. Contains xanthines (caffeine, theobromine, theophylline), bioactive compounds that stimulate the central nervous system and promote mental activity. In addition, they increase energy levels and concentration.
What options are there on the market?
In line with a consumer who is experiencing a change in awareness when it comes to choosing food, taking care of oneself and the environment, there are more and more options available. However, the organic yerba market is still in the process of expansion.
As Johan points out, the organic yerba mate industry is growing day by day due to demand mainly from Europe and the United States: “But in Argentina the production of organic or agroecological yerba mate is still very low compared to traditional practices.”
Which ones can you find? A look at some of our favourites:
● Mate & Co organic yerba mate ($545, 300 gr bag). We strongly support this presentation in a 100% compostable bag. Special grinding of large blade, without stick. Available on its official website.
● Porongo organic yerba mate ($600, 500 gr package). Surely you remember the unmistakable pink package of this missionary weed. You can find out the points of sale on its official website.
● Roapipó organic yerba mate ($650, 500 gr package). It is one of the brands that is increasingly present in dietetics. It comes in Mild, Traditional and Herb flavors.
Source: La Nacion
What is organic production?
Organic Production in Argentina is regulated by Law 25,127, its Decrees and Resolutions, being defined by internationally recognized official and private organizations and includes a certification and control system. The terms organic, ecological and biological are synonymous and may only be applied to products that comply with this Law.
It is a sustainable production system that promotes environmental care, by strengthening biodiversity and soil biotic activity. They are also traceable foods, the product of an internationally recognized system of standards and control. Organic production “combines tradition, innovation and science for the benefit of the shared environment, promotes fair relationships and a good quality of life for all those involved” (IFOAM, 2008).
It is based on the minimum use of external inputs, without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, or genetic manipulation. Methods are used that minimize air, soil and water pollution. Thus, organic food producers, handlers, processors and traders are governed by rules that maintain their integrity.