Organic labeling in South Korea

Organic Labeling in South Korea

If you’ve wondered how to identify organic goods from the grocery, check for the little coloured apple in the corner.

Korea’s organic food is regulated by the National Agriculture Products Quality Management Service (NAQS) as well as the Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA). Although NAQS was the only agency allowed to certify farmers, now the Korean Organic Farmers Association as well as a handful of other non-governmental parties certify farms.

Most Homeplus stores, E-marts and Lotte department stores carry companies like Pulmone and other organic produce, usually in a special section.

If you’re lucky enough to live in the central Seoul area, this new site delivers organic fruits and vegetables to your door. And the whole site is in English.

Then there’s iCoop, a cooperative of Korean farmers and producers who sell sustainable, local organic food. The food is cheaper than that of large grocery stores and they offer free delivery. Huckleberry’s  is an organic grocery store that specializes in organic food, including pesticide-free, non-GMO and cage-free options, offering a selecting of imported goods too.

As with many organic markets around the world, the problem lies in the definition of “organic”. According to an article by Chong-Woon Hong, who is part of the Agricultural Science Institute in South Korea,  ‘there is no precise consensus on the definition of organic farming in Korea. Ultimately, the broad definition focuses on the use of organic materials rather than chemicals and fertilizers.’

Suggesting that organic produce and products are not always 100 percent organic. However, eating Korean organic appears to be better than the alternative, eating potentially cancerous causing produce and contributing to pesticides and pollutants in the environment.

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14 Responses to Organic labeling in South Korea

  1. Pingback: EWG Study: What You Should Buy Organic | Vegan Urbanite

  2. Manal Aldabbagh says:

    I have been trying to find Huckleberry store in Seoul with no luck. Is there a clear direction to the store?

  3. Pingback: Tips ‘n’ Tricks: Grocery Shopping in Korea | kale and kass (with a side of sass)

  4. ruth says:

    Hey Frankie
    I went to the organic store near our home to buy the dirty dozen I was reading from your site today however some of the leaves had ‘organic’ on them and some ‘non pesticide.’
    None with both, what do you think?

    • VeganUrbanite says:

      Hey Ruth,
      Were the words written in English or Korean? I have a few ideas, assuming you take the terms to be literal and correct i.e. no translation errors.
      “Organic” means more than not using pesticides, it includes the exclusion of synthetic fertilizers, hormones and other chemical growth agents. So that could be the difference if you assume the terms have been applied correctly. The alternative could be that, unfortunately, organic is a loose term in Korea and may be applied to foods that the farmer insists are organic without the proper authoritative inspections. That’s why I would look for the label to ensure the food is clean. Hope that’s of some help.

  5. ruth says:

    Well they were from an ‘organic’ shop and they had the english green organic mark on them.
    Would you go for the organic label or non-pesticide label in the future?
    Thank you!

    • VeganUrbanite says:

      I would go for the ‘organic’ label assuming it looked authentic. In terms of verification, ‘non-pesticide’ may be as loosely used as ‘organic’ but at least organic excludes other nastys as well as pesticides. Good Luck

  6. Tiffany Allen says:

    So I am living in south korea around pyeongtak and helpful information on where to get “Organic” fruits and veggies for juicing or would you not recommend it in this country are far as trying to find something that is “pesticide free” since that is the biggest concern with juicing.


    • VeganUrbanite says:

      Hi Tiffany

      If you buy labelled pesticide free fruits and vegetables from the large supermarkets (Lotte, Homeplus etc.) you can be assured that they are safe to juice. If you’re really concerned, peel your vegetables and don’t juice the dirty dozen.

      Happy Juicing

  7. Pingback: WWOOF: Pesticide Free Produce to Your Gwangju Door | Gwangju Blog

  8. Vicky says:

    hi there! we are due to move to Geoje in November this year! we are very excited but I am starting to worry about the availability of access to organic fruit and veg or grass fed meats? I noticed you are living in Busan which isn’t too far away from Geoje, how do you find it?Thanks in advance Vicky

  9. Jeremy says:

    Kind of off topic, but although I’m trying to be vegan, as winter is setting in I’m craving eggs. Although, I don’t want to support the horrors of factory farming, I believe that eggs are a natural part of the human diet from time immemorial (they can’t run away so we didn’t need to hunt or kill them). So, I’m looking for “cruelty free” eggs and maybe cheese if possible. Much thanks in advance and best of luck with finding the food that makes you feel good.

  10. Jeremy says:

    Sorry, I forgot to mention, I’m in Busan.

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