A lot happened last year around the farm. One thing that we are really excited about (yet somehow, we forgot to mention) is getting certified by the Real Organic Project.
There has been many changes over the years concerning what is considered USDA certified organic. Many describe it as a watering down of the organic standards, a statement we do not disagree with. The Real Organic Project is aimed at getting back to a simple answer to the question, “what does organic mean.” Healthy soil and humane treatment of animals. In 1995 the USDA defined certified organic as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony.” However, recently the USDA has opened their definition to allow big ag to grow fruits and vegetables, and animals, as organic despite the fact they never touch any soil and operate mainly on off-farm inputs. The Real Organic Project wants to reclaim the organic label and re-raise the bar of organic standards.
Recently our rep shared this video with us and asked us to spread the word. https://www.realorganicsymposium.org/post/voices_of_real_organic
There are a lot of organic farmer all-stars speaking on here and there’s a lot of great messages. The two that stuck out the most for me was Leah Penniman and Emily Oakley (maybe because they are both women in a male dominated world but that’s another blog post). It drives me crazy to go to the store and look for the organic options and see a brand that offers both organic and conventional. Like Emily says, if organic is the best option why grow any other way. And as Leah says, we need to reclaim the word organic so that it aligns more with our moral compass. When big ag grows both organic and conventional they are growing organic for the sole purpose to make money, not because they believe in the organic values that small farms like us hold so dear. And, these practices can actually be less sustainable and have more of an environmental foot print because organic at a big scale involves lots of mono-cropping, lots of inputs like fertilizers and herbicides, and get smaller yields.
Now to be clear, we are still also certified organic by the USDA. This is sort of a prerequisite to the Real Organic Project. Although, the USDA has bent the standard to allow big ag to do practices that are unthinkable to the small organic farmer, they still hold high standards about pesticides and other dangerous conventional practices. We are fired up about the Real Organic Project though. It’s the start to a new soil-based movement. Real organic farming practices can produce food to feed communities, restore the soil, better the environment, and have a negative carbon footprint. False organic practices can mono-crop, erode the soil, degrade biodiversity, and raise animals in factories.
We appreciate our customers who support us doing what is best for the environment and for all of our health. When you make the choice to support small local farms it helps us continue to do what we all know is the right way to treat the land, and animals. Usually, it’s not as convenient as going to your grocery store and doing all your shopping at once. It requires effort and planning and time, and we really value all of you who put the work in.