The simple answer is it tastes better and it's better for your health and for our environment.
Before WW II farming was basically all "organic". Farmers fed their soils, not their plants. After WW II major munitions companies started to manufacture fertilizers and pesticides to replace the lost business because there was no longer a large demand for weapons. At first farmers were thrilled with the new chemicals because in the short term they increased yields. What wasn't readily apparent, however, was that they also depleted soil fertility and killed off beneficial insects. Many farmers also started "mono-cropping" and greatly decreased the variety of crops they were growing. Thus began the vicious cycle that continues to this day. Depleted soils take years to rebuild and its a huge task for a conventional farm to reverse this cycle.
Luckily, many in the US are making it a priority to return to organic farming and consumers are supporting organic farming by demanding the products. This has lead to the United States Department of Agriculture implementing a set of Organic Standards that all US farms must adhere to if they market their products as Organic.
Being Certified Organic means that an independent, USDA licensed organization inspects our farm and farming practices to ensure that we are maintaining Organic Standards. Our certifying agency is MOSA (Midwest Organic Services Association), one of the oldest and most respected USDA certifying agencies. We currently farm on 25 acres of MOSA Certified Organic crop land. In addition to the 25 acres of Certified Organic land we also have 8 acres in transition, USDA organic standards require that land go through a three year transitional phase. We do use organic practices on these 8 acres and will be Certified Organic in 2014. The farm is required to keep detailed records including seed sources and input (fertilizers etc) records. The farm is reviewed at least every year; more if certain crops or products are added during the growing season.
In our opinion if you say you have organic products you should be certified. Some farmers are against certification because they resent government intervention; after all, the government has been less than supportive to sustainable farmers; organic or not. Others claim it's too much paperwork. It is true there is a lot of record keeping but any successful business should keep detailed and accurate records. Still others don't want to pay the certifying fees. We think it's a pretty good deal to pay the $400 certification fee and the .75% per $1,000 in sales (that's $7.50) to benefit from all of the great services that MOSA offers. While we respect some farmers unwillingness to certify and certainly know farmers who practice organic methods and are not certified; we think Organic Certification offers consumers the safest confirmation that the products they are buying are truly organic.
Also, keep in mind that products coming from outside the US and labeled Organic do not necessarily have to comply with USDA regulations. Next time youre shopping for organics at a big box retailer (Costco, Walmart, Target, etc.) check the country of origin. There have been many issues of non compliance with products coming from outside the US; particularly from Asia and Central and South America.
When you know your farmers you know your food. Bon Appetite!
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