Sunday, April 27, 2014

Organic Standards...You Can't Use Them Unless You Follow Them


It's time for another Certified Organic Rant, in fact I'm overdue but I'm sure you'll forgive me. Every year about this time( as I am completing the extensive recertification paperwork required in order to be legitimately Certified Organic) I become hypersensitive to  the Organic Posers which come out of the woodwork. I ignore many of them but some just get under my skin and therefore I must react.

My basic premise is this, farm however you choose, this is still America (for a short time at least) but please be HONEST about how you farm. You don't think being certified organic is worth the trouble, expense, customer trust or label recognition? Then by all means don't do it.

That's all I'm saying. If you think it best to keep your animals crowded into small places without grass, sky, dirt or fresh air just be proud of that and tell your customers. Or less dramatic, if you keep your beef animals outside with lots of room but you choose to feed grain, then tell your customers THAT. Or you choose to raise your hogs outside , fed organic feed but you still believe prophylactic vaccines and antibiotics are useful then tell your customers THAT.

Only those who are not proud of the way they farm will pretend to be something they are not.

But unfortunately as more customers demand good food raised in humane and healthy ways, more Organic Posers, or Fake Farmers as I also like to refer to them,  raise their ugly heads and banners. First I'll define an Organic Poser, they are pretty easy to spot.

1. Labels, Signs, Facebook Pages, Blogs, Websites  that say "Organic" but never mention their certifying agency. Ours is MOSA.

2. Use of the term "Raised per Organic Standards" yet they cannot list even 10 of the over 200 standards, nor will they own a copy of the NOP standards manual. How can they follow standards they are unaware of?

3. Will accept (and feed to their livestock) donations of non-CERTIFIED organic feed from restaurants, grocery stores, gardeners, neighbors.

4. Cannot answer the following questions with a "yes"
     a. Do you graze on land that is certified organic?
     b. Do you buy only certified organic replacement livestock? If not do you inform your customers
         of the animals orientation.?
     c. Do you only administer antibiotics to save an animals life?
     d. Is your meat processed in a certified organic locker?
     e. Do you post "No Spray" signs around the edges of your property?

5. Is not aware that any equipment used to cut, bale, ship organic feed must be cleaned according to NOP standards after that same equipment has cut, baled, or shipped non-organic feed.

6. Cannot list at least 5 approved organic treatments for animal illness, such as organic garlic and diatomaceous earth.

7. Gets all huffy and bent out of shape (like a huge pretzel) when you ask questions like these.

The Midlife Farmwife and Her Hardworking Prince Farming


  1. I wish all farmers felt the same passion you express.

    1. I think Susan many do, but not all are as comfortable expressing it and many fear real and perceived consequences for voicing their opinions. I'm not excusing their silence...just encouraging them to choose loud mouthed mates like my husband did.

  2. I'm sure I've mentioned this before but....

    We have local 'organic' farmers here who plant a twenty metre row of something, then sell several tons. How they get away with it, I have no idea. We also have weekly Farmer's Market type picnic evenings, where locals bring their products, and sell to diners. One Duck producer sells about 400 barbequed Duck breasts every week, but only has about 50 on her farm. I suspect that Chinese Duck exports are booming.

    1. That is so impressive Cro! We are so behind the times here on South Pork Ranch. If we raise 70 hogs we tend to sell 70 hogs or maybe 68 minus the two that go in our own freezer. We have so got to improve our farming methods, I am dying to know how a farmer raised one duck with 8 breasts. "Science" at its best huh?

  3. It is one thing to be pure and committed, and quite another to be false and half whatever. Your standards are reassuring to those who want the real "stuff".

    This is such a profound statement at this stage of American' history: this is still America (for a short time at least)

    1. Oh Susan, I am so far removed from "pure" :) and my own family at times feels I should be committed but so appreciate your insights. America is still in my opinion a great country, founded by great men but it will take a GREAT deal of effort by the present Americans to turn things around.