I’m pretty sure my chicken’s free range eggs and my tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, peas and beans would be considered organic. The great success of the weeds in my garden, and the healthy population of Japanese beetles in my apples trees and roses are proof that I don’t spray.
That wouldn’t be enough for the USDA certification though. There are mountains of do’s and don’ts spelled out in the Guidance on Organic Agriculture that take a pretty dedicated farmer to adhere to for certification. The organic guidelines were established in 1990 with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and get tweaked a few times a year as different substances and practices are approved or disapproved. Organic farming is more a labor of love than a practical approach to making a profit from agriculture. It encourages recycling, humane treatment of animals, and natural growth of plants and animals free from antibiotics and hormonal and genetic modification. The basic tenets for Organic Farming are all good:
Organic farms and processors:
- Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
- Support animal health and welfare
- Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors
- Only use approved materials
- Do not use genetically modified ingredients
- Receive annual onsite inspections
- Separate organic food from non-organic food
When you balk at the higher prices for organic food at the grocery store, go ahead and bite the bullet. You’re not paying extra because it tastes better (though it does), you are paying extra because it’s much harder to grow and takes a farmer willing to wade through paperwork, keep a daily log of farming activities, and be satisfied with a lower yield of a better product.
If you are thinking of producing an organic product, thank you. You’ll need to show that your land has gone at least three years without any non-permissible additions and will have to have soil tests done before your first certification. It’s become a way of life for over 30,000 farmers in the US and continues to grow as consumers demand a more natural, kind, and organic approach to producing our food.