What is Organic Food?
Hi I’m Tricia an organic gardener, and I want to answer the question, “What is Organic Food?” I grow organically for a healthy and safe food supply for a clean and sustainable environment for an enjoyable and rewarding
Organic is the core of our company so what do we mean when we say organic besides the obvious answer of carbon-based Prior to World War two all agriculture was organic. The only petrochemicals found on a farm were in the tractor. After World War Two, science was king and
everyone was eager for what was modern and scientific. Leftover chemicals developed for war such as ammonium nitrate for munitions and organophosphates for nerve gas became fertilizers and pesticides on the farm. The industrialization of agriculture is ironically known as the green revolution. In the 1940’s a group of men who were concerned about the direction that agriculture was headed decided to lead a movement to preserve the time-honored techniques of farming such as soil conservation, composting and farm diversity.
J.I. Rodale coined the term ‘organic’ to describe his system of agriculture
based on the works of Sir Albert Howard in England, Rudolf Steiner
in Germany and doctor William Albrecht of the University of Missouri. Around the same time, Lord Northbourne also adopted the term ‘organic’ to describe the idea of the farm as an organism. All of these progenitors of the organic movement shared the same values that we who embrace organic food still do today.
We recognize the farm as an interdependent organic whole. We focus on soil life and health. We reject synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and incorporate livestock into the life and health of the farm.
In the beginning of the organic movement there wasn’t any regulatory or certification process. Consumers concerned about their food and the environment relied on relationships that they had with their farmers. That tradition continues at the Nevada City Farmers Market in Nevada City, California. Get to know your local farmer and learn their farming techniques.
In 1990, the United States government recognized this distinctive method of agriculture and launched the National Organic Program. They defined organic agriculture as an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. Various organizations such as CCOF an Oregon Tilth are registered with the USDA and do the job of certifying farms and their products as organic only certified farms may use the USDA organic seal and call their products organic. If you see the USDA symbol you’ll know that that farm met the standards for the USDA Organic Program.
Many people confuse natural with organic. The term natural is not regulated by the FDA or the USDA but the term organic means that the food has met very strict standards: the bottom line for consumers is either buy organic or buy from a farmer that you know whose practices you agree with.
What does a consumer want to look for on the farm? You want to look for things that gel with your beliefs. Things like permaculture practices, natural fertilizers, integrated pest management pasture for their animals so that you can really get food that’s the most healthy and using the most natural practices.
What does it mean to be an organic farmer certified? Organic certification
involves the process of review by a third party its license to do those
inspections and determine whether or not a farm is in compliance with the Federal Rules that govern organic production. The benefit to the consumer is that if a farm is certified organic you can go to a grocery store and look for that certified organic status and know that that product complies with the National Organic Program. When you’re buying organic you’re taking a stand against GMO’s, irradiation, sewage sludge, preventative antibiotics, growth hormones, synthetic fertilizers
and synthetic pesticides. Organic gardening and farming isn’t just
a list of do’s and dont’s. It’s a complete mindset. The organic grower recognizes that the farmer or garden is its own ecosystem instead of a reactive approach to soil fertility or pests.
The organic approach is a proactive system that favors soil life and fertility beneficial insects and natural predators of pests such as bats. Initially to get it started, the organic farm or garden may take a little bit more attention but in the long run you’ll add fewer inputs and save time. For example, the soil feeds the plants which produce food for the people and the livestock livestock such as chickens help the plants by eating pest insects and larvae and providing a light tillage, cattle add manure to pastures then you can compost the dead plants, kitchen scraps and droppings from the chickens and cattle to enrich the soil and the cycle
continues. The goal in growing organically should be good soil health, biodiversity and working within the natural cycles of life instead of against them so buy, eat and grow organic for life!