This Week’s Harvest
Bell Peppers and/or Sweet Italian Peppers
McIntosh and Ginger Gold
Twice Baked Broccoli and Kale Stuffed Potatoes (increase potato amount to 4 – 6)
This spring and summer the Washington Post has had several investigative reports on organic farming specifically questioning the trustworthiness of the label (just google “Washington Post organic series” and the whole slew of articles show up). As an organic farmer I find this reporting important and useful- but I also can’t help but take it personally- because I know we farm with integrity. As organic has become more popular, big names want to get in on the game. The Washington Post articles mostly reviewed much larger farms whose goals for being organic aren’t necessarily aligned with mine. I’ve been wanting to respond to the series as I found it frustrating that the little guys were smeared by the blanket attitude of the Post. At the same time, I do feel that the integrity of the organic label is crucial for consumer confidence and do see it threatened by profit driven cheaters jumping in.
Before I get into what I see as real problems to the organic label, I want to bring up what the Post got wrong. In an article “Why your ‘organic’ milk may not be organic,” The Post claims that organic farmers get to choose their inspector. The truth is we choose the certifying agency, but we do not know who they will send to inspect the farm. The third party audit that does happen is definitely not farmers “choosing their inspector.” The certification agency assigns an inspector who must not have a conflict of interest. Furthermore, at least 2 more individuals, who also must not have a conflict of interest, review the application for certification before it is excepted or rejected. Certifying agencies are audited by the USDA to ensure they are properly enforcing the National Organic Program standards. We get certified by The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, an organization that has promoted and supported sustainable farming since 1979. OEFFA is a tireless advocate for a strong organic label on behalf of consumers and small producers. Their education and policy work speaks to the organization’s integrity.
Perhaps there are certifying agencies not doing their job, and hopefully the USDA’s regular auditing process will weed any bad actors out. But I did feel the Post’s explanation of how the certification process works was very misleading and wanted to share my thoughts. In next week’s blog I will talk about current threats to organics. These issues were brought up by the Post. I already new about them from my organic farming community but was glad to see them getting national press. Hopefully public awareness and pressure can keep organics strong! Stay tuned for next week’s post on organic imports and proposed rule changes in regards to animal welfare.