Certified Organic

Who determines what is and isn’t organic?

In 2002, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) implemented the NOP (National Organic Program).  Since then, if it is an agricultural product (veggies, meat, milk, etc.) and you want to market it as ‘organic’, you conform to the USDA NOP guidelines, or face a monetary fine.  The term organic has nothing to do with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) but rather is all about agriculture.   Only agricultural products and products made from agricultural products can be termed ‘organic’. 

All food was organic (in theory) before about 1944 when chemicals first came on the scene in agriculture and made it ‘easier’ to farm.  I didn’t say better, I said easier.  By the 1970’s chemicals took families off the land by allowing farms to be become bigger, for companies to farm rather than people.  Instead of family farms, there were now corporation farms.  This was all in the name of progress.   

The start of chemicals on our farms-

And then we became the big experiment.  Which is still going on.  Chemicals were used on the land (many chemicals were developed during WWII, the Korean Police Action and the Vietnam War).  These chemicals were NOT tested for their long term affects prior to being used.  No one really knows what harm many of these chemicals have had on society.  We are just now learning which chemicals are carcinogens, which chemicals remain in the soil for decades, which chemicals leach into our water supply.  No one fully knows…

Accountability-

Organic products have checks.  I’m one of those people that help with those checks, I’m an independent organic inspector. Organic producers are required to be inspected by an agency authorized by the USDA NOP on an annual basis.  They must disclose their seeds, their inputs, their farming methods and for processors; how they clean, what they clean with and that no prohibited chemicals come into contact with organic ingredients.  Organic and conventional ingredients must be stored separately. The list is long of the ‘musts’ and the ‘mays’.   No conventional farm is required to do any of those.  When you buy organic food, at least someone was looking over the producer’s shoulder.  Written documentation of what took place on the farm is required.  Is it perfect? NO, nothing is, but if the producer doesn’t conform, they can’t market their products as organic.  If they use a prohibited input, they may be out of the system for three years, or maybe permanently!

USDA Organic Seal-

Look for the seal, it is your assurance that the product you are buying is certified organic.