What is the biggest environmental problem? Is it climate change, etc etc? The biggest problem is actually our inability to recognize and truly know that we are not separate from the environment. We are the environment. And so if you make choices about the way you live in the world, the foods you eat, the paths you take in accordance with that knowledge, you are to some degree addressing the biggest environmental problem that exists. I work in organic certification because, being a purist organic consumer, I trust the organic label. PLEASE talk to me about any questions you have about Organics. There are so many misperceptions out there and it is good to know the facts.
What is Sustainable Agriculture?
Sustainable agriculture is one that produces abundant food without depleting the earth’s resources or polluting its environment. It is agriculture that follows the principles of nature to develop systems for raising crops and livestock that are, like nature, self-sustaining. Sustainable agriculture is also the agriculture of social values, one whose success is indistinguishable from vibrant rural communities, rich lives for families on the farms, and wholesome food for everyone.
In recent decades, sustainable farmers and researchers around the world have responded to the extractive industrial model with ecology-based approaches, variously called natural, organic, low-input, alternative, regenerative, holistic, Biodynamic, biointensive, and biological farming systems. All of them, representing thousands of farms, have contributed to our understanding of what sustainable systems are, and each of them shares a vision of "farming with nature," an agro-ecology that promotes biodiversity, recycles plant nutrients, protects soil from erosion, conserves and protects water, uses minimum tillage, and integrates crop and livestock enterprises on the farm.
What is the role of Organic Certification?
Organic certification provides third-party confirmation that a production or handling operation is in compliance with organic standards. Certification enables qualified producers and handlers to market agricultural products under a USDA certified organic seal. In its simplest terms, the organic seal assures the consumer of organic integrity. First, a product is grown in an organic production system that emphasizes plant and animal health, preventative management of pests, and judicious use of allowed materials. Then, the product is tracked and protected from contamination from the field to final sale, whether it is a raw agricultural commodity or a multi-ingredient processed product. The label may carry a claim of "100 percent organic," "Organic" (95% to 100%), or "Made with organic ingredients" (at least 70% organic ingredients).
Organic certifiers conduct annual inspections of all their clients (certified parties) to verify, through on-site review of actual activities and the corresponding records, that the clients are in compliance with the relevant organic standards. Every USDA-accredited certification agency must make annual inspections. Most inspections are scheduled with the client in advance; however, some inspections are unannounced. (for more information see the ATTRA website)
What about the Price of Organic Food?
Many people don’t buy organic because of the price. As the International Federation of Organic Movements (IFOAM) so nicely puts it: “The price of organic food is not too high – rather, it is the price of conventional food that is too low. Consumers are in fact paying for nonorganic food three times over, through the sticker price, taxation (which mainly subsidizes non-organic farming), and payments that remedy damage that conventional farming and food production has inflicted on the environment and human health. If the production, distribution, and trade systems accounted for the real environmental and social costs, consumers’ incentive to buy organic products would be triggered, because they would actually be less expensive than the conventional products."
The videos and resources posted are not just about organics but about ecology, food in general, our digestive systems, and recognizing that we will never have all the answers…but we owe it to ourselves, everything on this planet, and future generations to produce food that does not require poisoning farmers, soils, air, water, and everything in between.
For more information on certification and enforcement of the Organic Regulation around the world, please visit the National Organic Program website. There is so much there! Or just email me!