What does “organic” mean to you?

In talking with chefs, restaurant owners, everyday citizens, and health conscious gurus I have discovered that there is a real gap in the understanding of “certified organic”.

Many people assume that it is just another label slapped on their food so that retailers can charge exaggerated prices, or that it is a dwindling fad in the growing food movement only to be replaced by “local” or “sustainably grown” (and often more affordable) produce.

But my dear readers, this is not the case. Your local farmer says that everything he grows is organic, but that it just costs him too much time and money to do the paperwork. This is bologne. And do you know why? Because being “certified organic” is one more step above local and sustainability labels. The regulations are very strict; and this is purposely done so that the quality standards of organic food are superior to everything else.  That farmer doesn’t feed his animals certified organic feed, so what are they eating then? GMO corn? If that tomato farmer doesn’t use “certified organic” seeds to start his tomatoes then no matter if he doesn’t spray them with pesticides they still aren’t organic.

It’s wonderful that the movement to support local economies is growing, but please make sure you understand what you are buying. As one of only 94 certified organic farms in Kentucky, I understand that it is critical to educate the public on the true meaning of “certified organic”. Us farmers purposely choose to be dedicated to the principles of organic certification, despite the high costs of feed and initial expenses. (Please don’t think we are purposely charging you more, or that we are rich farmers, because this cost is actually created because of  lower consumer demand which means that its harder to find farms/companies that produce organic seeds/materials/soil/animals etc).

So even though it may be more expensive, please make the conscious choice to support your certified organic farmers. Because through your support, more farmers and consumers will be influenced to take on this recognition, which will ultimately be better for everyone, and eventually lower the price too.

And by the way, don’t listen to whining farmers: the paper work isn’t really that intensive.

certified organic” : “Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. These methods integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used”

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