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What does it mean to be organic?
Wikipedia defines organic this way: An organic compound is any member of a large class of chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon, with the exception of carbides, carbonates, and carbon oxides. The study of organic compounds is termed organic chemistry. Many of these compounds, such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates (sugars), are also of prime importance in biochemistry.
So, by this definition, gasoline is organic and, rock phosphate is not. so, clearly something else is afoot.
So, we go to Wikipedia again and read: Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on ecosystem management and attempts to reduce or eliminate external agricultural inputs, especially synthetic ones. It is a holistic production management system that promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity.
And then there are organic certifications.
Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restaurants. Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping that include:
Some organizations that certify and maintain a list or listing of certified organic products are, Organic Material Research Institute(OMRI), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), OCIA, Certified Naturally Grown, and other local organizations like North East Organic Farming Association(NOFA) and other regional organizations.
Natural essentially means very little. Although most of us relate that term to wholesome, quality products, all kinds of harmful things are natural too, like, my favorite, oil and coal. Made by nature but, not something you want in your food. Most synthetic fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides are synthesized from oil and long carbon chain molecules. They either break down too quickly in nature and wind up in places we don't want them like, "The water table and streams" causing algae blooms and fish kills and worse, or they do harm to the living organisms in the soil and make plants dependent on them, rather than the rich ecosystem that is soil, for their well being, thus, causing you to become dependent on them to maintain your property or farm. The plants get so they can hardly live without it after a while.
So, what does this mean to you and shopping here. Not every product on this site is "Certified Organic". It doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong with a product if it doesn't carry the OMRI certification or USDA or any other such label. It may be just that, the company has opted out of the process, often because it's so expensive.
Every fertilizer and pesticide product, organic or other wise has to have a label that is approved for sale in every state it's sold in. It cost a great deal of money to do this. Then, there's a certification process that needs to take place and that costs a lot of money too. Not only that, a product that might be certified organic by and agency might have to have a different label for farm use than for home use. Each label must go through the state and agency process and cost money each time it gets exposed to this process. this process of registering labels and getting certified has to be done every year.
Because of this process, many companies simply opt out of the process of organic certification altogether or just for one aspect of their products. Some companies might just register their label with all the states but not enter into the organic certification process at all. Some might be certified organic for use in home gardens but, not for farms. You could cross over but, you need to check with your local certifying board like NOFA to find out if they will allow it's use on a certified organic farm under their jurisdiction. A farm could lose it's certification if they use a non-approved product. Stay alert. A product you may have used in the past might very well be removed from the list for any number of reasons, only to reappear again the next year.
If you find this confusing, that's because it is! Not only that, certain corporate interest continue to do what they can to make it more confusing. The organic movement is now a serious economic force to be reckoned with and the powers that be feel threatened. Rather than follow the trade winds and do what's right, they seek to undermine the industry when ever possible. Be wary of the claims they make on those hyped television commercials. What I try and do for you is, try the product myself and see if it matches up to the claims made for it. I get to know the manufacturer and ask questions of agronomists and people in the industry before I list it on my site for sale. I've been involved with these issues for over 17 years now and I try to keep up on trends and current certification standards as much as I can.
What you can do is similar.
You'll notice perhaps that, through out this dissertation and this site, I try to avoid the word "Chemical. That's because, everything is made of chemicals. Chemicals are neither good nor bad. What type they are and where they come from is what's of concern in this argument. I make use of the word, "synthetic and synthetic chemicals" to imply that they are manufactured by people in factories, consuming a great deal of energy, usually fossil fuel and made for the most from oil based chemicals and derivatives.
The organic standards we have today are being sullied by corporations and government officials that let the lobbyist in the door.
Not only that, there's an educational component to organic standards and labeling that needs to be addressed. Just because something is on the label in plane sight doesn't mean people will know what it is or understand it. We have to have some type of certification people can count on and the only way I know is to keep on your politicians and local standards boards and make sure they aren't caving in to Monsanto and they keep improving and refining what they do.
Not everyone has the time or know how when it comes to talking with folks who work on organic standards so it's up to those who do not to give up and stay engaged in the process. It's another way of looking out for one another.
There are resources like ATTRA(http://attra.ncat.org/), OCIS(http://www.ocia.org/) and OMRI(http://www.omri.org) and local and regional standards boards like NOFA (http://www.nofavt.org/) out here in the east and others like it across the country.
I don't like regulation and government fees anymore than anyone else does but there are times when it's necessary. Sometimes the government is the only entity that has the size and strength to stand up to corporations like Monsanto and the oil companies.
Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on ecosystem management and attempts to reduce or eliminate external agricultural inputs, especially synthetic ones. It is a holistic production management system that promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity.
In preference to the use of off-farm inputs, organic farming emphasizes management practices, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. Utilizing both traditional and scientific knowledge, organic agricultural systems rely on agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods (these may require external inputs of nonrenewable resources, like tractor fuel, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfill any specific function within the system. Organic farming is also associated with support for principles beyond cultural practices, such as fair trade and environmental stewardship and sustainability, although this does not apply to all organic farms and farmers.
As I have time, more will be added to this page. Thanks for making it to the bottom! John
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