Miranda and Therese Kerr

Therese and Miranda Kerr talk organics

September 2016 is Organic Awareness month and, along with National Organic Week Australia (September 17-25), it’s aimed at raising awareness of the benefits of organic products and farming practices.

Therese and Miranda Kerr are ambassadors and advocates for organics so WellBeing has asked them both what organics means to them — and what it can mean to you.

WellBeing: How long have you been a fan of organics?

Miranda: My mother and grandmother both instilled in my brother and I from a very young age — and in fact all our extended family — an appreciation for healthy organic eating and living.

Therese: Ever since I found out what is actually in conventional everyday skin, hair, beauty, personal, baby and oral care products and in the food that most of us eat daily. It was when my “a-ha moment” happened, which was when I had tumours in my spleen in 2001 and had to have my spleen removed in 2002. My family and I experienced firsthand the benefits of switching our house over to certified organic in every aspect (food and personal-care products and also healthy cleaning products).

Why do organics matter to you and also in the bigger picture?

T: During the time I had tumours in my spleen I would juice lots of vegies and ate predominantly a meat-free, vegetarian, certified organic diet. I also developed rosacea on my face and I tried everything but nothing worked until I tried certified organic. Within 10 days of using certified organic products on my face, the rosacea had gone.

I have since become an even bigger fan of certified organic after researching fully over the last 15 years the impact of chemicals in our everyday products on our health and learning also how powerful and effective botanical-based products are for health and anti-ageing.

With certified organic, it’s not always about what’s NOT in a product. When we are talking health, wellbeing and anti-ageing, what’s equally important is what ingredients are actually IN a product.

Both The Divine Company and KORA Organics certified organic skincare and personal-care products contain the highest-quality certified organic and plant-derived nutrient and antioxidant-rich ingredients.

Our world used to be “organic” now it must be labelled “certified organic” to represent anything close to what nature intended it to be. There is a huge difference between the words “organic” and “certified organic” and even “certified natural”.

The word “organic” means nothing. A company in Australia and in most countries around the world can claim something is “organic” if it contains one natural ingredient — yet it may contain literally hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals. According to the Breast Cancer Fund of America, the word “fragrance” can contain up to 3000 chemicals that do not have to be disclosed on a label and many other chemicals, yet the product can still be classed as organic.

“Certified natural” in most cases allows for the use of fragrance and GMOs.

“A company in Australia and in most countries around the world can claim something is ‘organic’ if it contains one natural ingredient — yet it may contain literally hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals.”

“Certified organic” on the other hand is regulated by organic certification bodies. Certified organic products contain only plant-based and -derived ingredients, no artificial colours or flavours, no GMOs, and no pesticides, insecticides or organophosphates. Everything that is contained within a certified organic product, unlike conventional products, has to be listed on the product label. Sustainability practices are assured and full traceability from Earth to store is guaranteed. A company is monitored by an external body to ensure compliance.

It matters to me that hormone-related disorders are at an all-time high. Infertility, endometriosis, breast, ovarian, testicular cancers, fibroids and PCOS have become all too common place, as has early-onset puberty and early-onset menopause.

It matters that babies are being born with on average 200-plus synthetic chemicals in their little umbilical cords — and babies sadly do not have the ability to detox of an adult. Dr Sarah Lantz, author of Chemical Free Kids, through the University of Queensland took newborn babies’ umbilical cords, tested them and found on average 200 synthetic chemicals in them. Professor Marc Cohen shares that one of the fastest ways a woman will detox is to have a baby because, through “maternal transfer”, we dump fat-soluble chemicals onto our children in utero.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are found in our foods and produce as well, in particular by way of organophosphates in produce.

In relation to cosmetics, it’s ridiculous that there isn’t any premarket or health testing done on any cosmetic product before it is released onto the market. Between us, Miranda and I have released over 60 certified organic cosmetic products and we have not been approached by any regulatory body (other than the ones we chose to register certified organic through) in relation to what ingredients are in our products.

In Australia, we rely predominantly on the US model to determine if the chemicals in our everyday products are safe. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), chemicals are used in cosmetics on the basis they are safe until proven otherwise.

Sharing the message of certified organic matters to me because I believe since WWII we have been apathetic as a society and irresponsible in allowing chemicals to be used with minimal, if any, safety testing. Any testing that is done is done in isolation and anyone who knows anything about chemistry knows that, if you test one chemical by itself, you will get a totally different result to if you test it with just one other chemical — let alone the hundreds or thousands that can be in any given formulation.

“Do we simply turn a blind eye and pretend as a family we don’t know all of this, or do we use our voice as a family to make a difference and to help turn the tide?”

Now is the first time in history that children are dying before their parents. Cancer is the number-one disease for children under 15, infertility is at an all-time high and we have scientists who are saying we are the only species actively contributing to our own extinction…

Do we simply turn a blind eye and pretend as a family we don’t know all of this, or do we use our voice as a family to make a difference and to help turn the tide?

There are many nutritionists, naturopaths, scientists and wellness educators sharing and educating others on the need to switch to healthier food options. We take a holistic approach to health and as a family (with Miranda as one of the most recognised faces in the world) we are blessed to have a public profile. As a family we have an opportunity to share what we have personally learned and to hopefully impact people’s lives positively.

Woman with organic produce

How do you build organic choices into your own life?

M: I make a concerted effort to eat organic where possible and, when given the choice, I shop at an organic farmers’ markets and grocers for our food. I also choose household cleaning products that are natural and chemical free.

T: You just start one step at a time. There are things we can control and things we can’t. We can’t on an individual level control the number of cars that are driving on our roads, although we can do our bit to minimise that. What we can control is what we put in our body and what we put on our body.

Our skin absorbs roughly 60 per cent of everything we place on it, sometimes more. Our skin doesn’t have digestive enzymes to break synthetic chemicals down, nor does it have the purification process of the liver to further break chemicals down. Understanding that your skin is permeable is paramount to understanding how your health is impacted by your everyday actions.

What differences do you feel arise in your own life from making organic choices?

T: Without a doubt, health and vitality are present in my life. I am almost 52 – I have now lived two years longer than my mum who died when I was pregnant with Miranda. I feel like I am 20 and I know making healthy choices — such as eating only certified organic food when possible and having a chemical-free home and body — is what empowers me to lead the lifestyle I do.

I spend, on average, three weeks of the month travelling and educating on this subject to hopefully make a difference and to have us reach a tipping point. I recently had an antioxidant test which showed the level of antioxidants in my body were almost three times the rate of the other 120-plus people at the expo I was at.

If someone wants to start embracing organics, how should they begin?

M: I would suggest eliminating all toxic products from the house, everything from cleaning products to personal hygiene and skincare products, and start the switch over to buying certified organic when and where possible.

T: Take one step at a time or, if you are like me, simply throw everything out and start again buying only certified organic. That is initially a costly exercise but, for example, our products are super concentrated so they last forever and as for food, when you eat certified organic food, your body has all the nutrition it needs so you eat much less.

“Take one step at a time or, if you are like me, simply throw everything out and start again buying only certified organic.”

I understand switching to certified organic for a lot of people is not financially possible. I did it because I could not unlearn what I had learnt and I did not want to continue on the path I was on, continuing to eat conventional or use conventional products on my skin.

In relation to food, look up “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean Fifteen” put out by the Environmental Working Group, which lists the 12 fruits and vegies you should avoid and the 15 that are the cleanest options if you can’t afford to buy all certified organic produce and fruit and vegies.

Stop buying packaged and processed foods, remove sugar, remove grain (unless certified organic) and use only healthy oils, such as certified organic coconut oil which, in my opinion, is the only safe oil to cook with. Other oils such as macadamia and olive oil are great for salads.

As far as cosmetics and cleaning products go the most important to swap out are: toothpaste, deodorant, body lotion, skincare products (KORA Organics and The Divine Company have skincare for young and mature skin) and hand sanitiser.

Removing the chemical burden you place on yourself every day is paramount to good health.

Miranda, is that what inspired you to start KORA?

M: It was really when I was modelling full time, at around 18, that I became aware of all the unnecessary and harmful chemicals contained in most skincare products. I searched for years to find organic skincare products that were certified organic and delivered results but I was unable to find anything on the market that delivered what I was looking for so I decided to create my own range.

I wanted to develop a range of products that brought together the very best in certified organic ingredients designed to nourish, revitalise and replenish the skin. After four years of product development with my organic pharmacist, I launched KORA Organics in 2009.

“It was really when I was modelling full time, at around 18, that I became aware of all the unnecessary and harmful chemicals contained in most skincare products.”

We use certified organic ingredients in KORA, which guarantees no toxic synthetic pesticides, toxic synthetic herbicides or chemicals are used in production of the ingredients. Organic producers and processors are also subject to rigorous announced and unannounced certification inspections by third-party inspectors such as Ecocert to ensure that they are producing and processing organic products in a manner you can trust. Ecocert is an organic certification organisation, founded in France in 1991. It is based in Europe but conducts inspections in over 80 countries, making it one of the largest organic certification organisations in the world.

We use the highest-quality certified organic ingredients formulated in accordance with Ecocert’s strict certification guidelines along with rosehip oil, chamomile, lavender, aloe vera, green tea, jojoba, sea buckthorn and vitamins A, C and E.

Noni is also one of the unique key ingredients in the range, which I was first introduced to when I was 12 years old by my grandmother. It has been a part of my daily health and skincare routine ever since as it’s packed with over 150 vitamins and minerals and is high in antioxidants.

I also added the unique vibrations of rose quartz crystal energised water to all the KORA Organics products. Rose quartz is believed to have heart-healing properties, is soothing and its gentle energy encourages self-love.

There are no toxic chemicals and all of the products are cruelty free and not tested on animals. I developed a range of products that I truly believe in and use every day. I am proud of the results my products are achieving and the difference they are making to people’s skin.

Can you go organic on a budget?

M: The best value I find is at my local farmers’ markets; I love supporting my local certified organic growers. The produce is incredibly fresh and, because you’re cutting out all the middle men, it’s also economical… We love meeting the person who’s grown our food and share a mutual passion and appreciation with them for what they are doing. We also grow our own herbs, fruit and vegetables at home, which we find not only cost effective but also really rewarding, and my son loves going up to the Garden each morning to see what has grown.

T: Most definitely. When you eat certified organic, you eat much less. Shop around, go to markets and or create a garden of your own and/or a community garden. Regarding cosmetic products, certified organic products such as DIVINE and KORA Organics are highly concentrated so that value per use works out less than conventional products.

What are some of your favourite ways to cook your organic food?

T: Steaming and sautéing, putting lots of greens in a smoothie and making a healthy vegetable broth. I cook a lot of soups and stews and it is beautiful to know the food I am eating supports my body and my health in every aspect by being chemical, pesticide, insecticide, organophosphate and GMO free.

Do you have a favourite DIY kitchen beauty recipe?

M: An enzyme mask made of certified organic natural yoghurt, honey, papaya and kiwifruit. It’s a little messy but leaves your skin glowing.

What is your hope or dream for the future of organics?

T: It is currently Australian Organic Awareness Month. I am one of the organisation’s ambassadors and I work with Australian Organic to share the message of certified organic — not just during Australian Organic Awareness Month but in everything I do. You see, I dream of a future where our kids are healthy, where pesticides, insecticides, organophosphates are a thing of the past and where the world returns to an “organic”, chemical-free state in the truest sense of the word, not how it is misrepresented today.

I dream of a world where everyone has access to highly nutritious food, where the soils are fertile and rich in nutrients, not starved due to over-production and over-use and poisoned due to the use of mostly untested synthetic chemical compounds being used so prominently. I dream that one day in the not too distant future certified organic becomes the norm; that people are informed enough to know they are being duped by companies misleading them and will vote with their dollar and not buy products that contain the chemicals that are impacting our health and the health of the planet so drastically and negatively.

Women will change the world. Why do I say that? Women are the purchasing powerhouse of our world. Companies will stop making products when we stop buying them — it really is that simple. I dream of a future where people support Australian made, Australian owned, local businesses and our organic farmers — the backbone of this country. People in wellness put their livelihood on the line in support others, usually driven by a desire to make a difference.

I dream of Australia continuing to lead the way in being the largest certified organic landmass in the world, where we say no to chemicals and GMOs and become active participants in our own health.

You can connect further with Miranda Kerr at KORA Organics and Therese Kerr at DIVINE, and learn more about organic awareness month at Australian Organic

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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