Its been awhile since my last organic label rant, so here goes. Overheard recently was this less than informed statement, "The only difference between organic and non-organic is that organic food is dirtier."
If it were that simple folks, most all your food labels would say certified organic as that generally brings in more revenue but the fact is, less than 5% of all grocery store food is labeled organic.
Reason being...it is difficult to be CERTIFIED organic. It takes time, money, knowledge and oh yeah, effort. But before I go too much farther I need to be clear on something. I understand that all things with a carbon base are indeed, organic. This discussion has to do with the National Organic Program (NOP) and the labeling of food items as organic. I frankly do not care if you, yourself eat organic, grow organic, breathe organic, snort organic or wrap your shitzsadoodle puppy in an organic silk caftan. Its your decision to ingest what you like, it is your decision to grow your food however you like.
My beef (pork and chicken) lies with folks who falsely advertise the items they sell, as organic, when they are not. Federal law states you cannot label your products as organic UNLESS
1. They have been through the organic certification process and successfully passed an annual inspection completed by a qualified surveyor OR
2. You sell less than $5000 a year of product AND follow all the National Organic Program
These are the only two legal ways you can label your product organic.
You can call your items several other names though like, "All Natural," for which there is no government definition. You can also simply list on your label the things you DO NOT put in your products such as
"this product contains certified organic oils"
" free of squirrel tail and bat teeth"
Why does this bother me so ? Because of the work involved. Every year it takes us many many hours to prepare for our annual inspection by MOSA. (Midwest Organic Services Association) http://www.mosaorganic.org/ Not only do we have to be antibiotic and chemical free in all we do on our farm, we also have to prove it . This is done through livestock tracking records, animal health forms, receipts etc...It is done by paying over $800 each year for the privilege of being inspected in addition to the costs of feeding certified organic hay and grain. It is done by maintaining the standards all year long not just at inspection time.
Recently the NOP passed the rule requiring that even the bedding we use must be certified organic. The reason being, animals tend to chew on their bedding at times so it best be organic as well. Locating certified organic straw in our area is not easy, nor is it cheap. We recently paid $4 for each bale. At that price we are now storing it in our bedroom, giving authentic meaning to the country decorating look.
So please, if you choose not to be certified organic, then be proud of that decision. Don't climb up on the back of those who have worked so hard to maintain our organic certifications. Don't say goofy things like "I'm beyond organic I just don't have the fancy label" How can you be beyond the standards when you've never even picked up the manual and read all its rules ?
So with all my gripes..why do we do it ?
We believe in it. We believe that animals raised without hormones and routine antibiotics, animals who must be outside on pasture at least 120 days of the year, produce tastier, healthier meat and milk. We could raise our meat this way without the certification but paying customers deserve farmer accountability and they demand it. If they CHOOSE to buy certified organic meat than they should have some way to ensure that the meat they buy is indeed raised according to the standards that are important to them.
That's all I'm saying.
In my next post , I'll talk about some of the methods we used, all approved by NOP, for treatment of a sick calf. It does not include voodoo or purple koolaide. Stay tuned.