It seems like there’s an “organic” or “gluten-free” option for everything these days.
The global organic food and beverage market alone is expected to reach $211.44 billion by 2020, according to Grandview Research. Markets and Markets predicts that the gluten-free products market will hit $7.59 billion by 2020.
But because USDA regulations apply only to certain industries, some brands slip through the cracks, or they make these claims without undergoing adequate testing to ensure they meet the criteria. Labels are particularly ambiguous outside of the food industry.
If it says organic or gluten free, it may not be, but chances are, it will cost more. Amid the growing trend of organic and gluten-free products and services, it can be difficult to pinpoint what is and isn’t worth those extra dollars. Not to mention, even if a product falls under one or both of these categories, that doesn’t mean it’s a perfectly healthy or safe alternative. Consumers should educate themselves before making purchases and weigh costs, benefits and potential unknowns.
The following are 10 examples of products and services that are filling surprising niches in these rapidly expanding markets.
The leader of sports drinks is joining the organic uprising with PepsiCo’s launch of G Organic -- an organic version of Gatorade certified by the USDA.
After two years of research and lab testing, G Organic is finally available in three flavors (strawberry, lemon and mixed berry), with only seven ingredients and 120 calories.
Even though the new product contains organic cane sugar and other natural ingredients, the amount of sugar content is nearly the same as the original (20 grams per 12-ounce bottle), according to NPR.
If you want to give G Organic a try, it will be rolling out in some Kroger supermarkets and various grocery, natural and convenience stores over the next few weeks, Bloomberg reports.
Organic baby toys
Start ‘em early, as they say.
Thanks to Sigikid, a German toy company best known for its organic products, children can lead an organic lifestyle from their first moments.
Sigikid’s toys comply with various international safety standards. From music boxes to stuffed animals, the toymaker provides products made from organic ingredients, such as cotton grown without pesticides or fertilizers.
Organic fast food
The Organic Coup
When you think of the term “organic,” fast food is the last thing that comes to mind.
To help keep its commitment to its organic label, the chain’s menu is simple, offering chicken sandwiches, salad and only one side dish -- popcorn.
“Created with the needs of those who are gluten-sensitive in mind,” Philosophi Salon in Columbus, Ohio, offers grooming services for those with a gluten allergy or intolerance.
The salon boasts a “gluten-aware environment” with a professional staff that pledges to neither use personal care products that contain gluten while at work, nor bring gluten food items onto the salon floor.
Organic nail polish
Because of its reputation for toxic chemicals such as “the big three” -- toluene, formaldehyde and DBP -- consumers have always been warned of the hazards of nail polish.
Given our society's environmental consciousness, many companies have removed these ingredients from their products. New Jersey-based Karma Organic is one business that offers not only organic spa services, but also organic nail polish and removers.
On top of the benefits for its human customers, Karma Organic’s products are also vegan.
Organic burial pods
Forget coffins and headstones -- organic burial pods can turn the bodies or ashes of deceased loved ones into trees.
Designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel created the Capsula Mundi project, a biodegradable burial capsule that turns a person’s remains into nutrients for growing a tree. The controversial method of burial is still in the development stages, and it is not legal everywhere.
The Latin phrase Capsula Mundi refers to the three elements of life: mineral, vegetal and animal. Along with the intent to change the way people think about death, the pods are made of plastics derived from organic materials that have little environmental impact.
Organic dry cleaning
Despite being an industry known for its hazardous chemicals, many “organic” dry cleaning services have cropped up in recent years.
Although there is no official standard for the use of the words “organic” or “eco-friendly” in dry cleaning, elected officials have tried to implement licensing procedures in recent years. Kansas City-based GreenEarth Cleaning explains on its website, “There is nothing green about organic dry cleaning methods. ‘Organic,’ as it relates to chemistry, refers to anything with a carbon backbone. Gasoline and asphalt are organic. Dry cleaners who market themselves this way are purposefully misleading the consumer.”
Green dry cleaning companies employ methods that leave out the toxic, common dry cleaning chemical “perc.”
With the power of the internet, glutenfreesingles.com allows gluten-free people around the world to connect through an online community.
GlutenfreeSingles serves the same purpose as dating sites such as eHarmony and Match.com, but it simply targets a more health-focused audience. Users can also meet friends and organize activity groups via GlutenfreeSingles.
Organic light bulbs
Say goodbye to those fluorescent light bulbs.
OLED (organic light emitting diode) light bulbs aren’t bulbs per se, but thin, flexible and transparent films made from organic materials (hydrocarbons). As the closest approximation to natural lighting after outdated incandescent lamps, OLED lights have a promising future.
While prices are still high and production is limited, OLEDs are beginning to see traction with major companies such as Philips, Osram, LG and more.
At the scientific level, water, which is made up of hydrogen and oxygen, cannot be organic. Organic means carbon-based. The USDA, which weighs factors such as soil quality when determining organic certifications, exempts water from its list of organic products.
But the USDA doesn’t have jurisdiction in the United Kingdom, of course. Llanllyr Source, a beverage company that draws its water from the organic fields of Llanllyr, Wales, labels itself as natural and organic.