By Shain Saberon
We decided not to certify EverGreen Farm and CSA produce as organic. Considering ourselves traditional organic farmers, we oppose the USDA’s corruption of this word. Our opposition formed because multinational corporations unfairly influence agricultural policy regulating organic food production.
In the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, a rider sponsored by the Organic Trade Organization legalized the application of 38 synthetic substances to organic foods (The Organic Trade Organization is a lobbying group that represents the largest agribusiness interests like Kraft Foods). The USDA claims the application of these substances to food is harmless. However, to my knowledge no evidence exists supporting this claim; I could not find a single trial conducted by an unbiased organization that was either honest or reliable. Furthermore, in 1997 the USDA declared the use of sewer sludge, irradiation, and genetically modified organisms “organic.” As you most likely guessed, The Organic Trade Organization also influenced this misguided legislation. Public outcry forced the USDA to repeal this ridiculous mandate.
Not only does USDA organic certification fail to protect consumers from non-organic substances in our food supply, but it also falls far short of numerous other practices considered paramount by traditional organic farmers. Failing to address labor issues, healthy soil practices, and appropriate animal husbandry also demonstrates the unreliability of USDA organic certification. Can industrialized farming operations relying on cheap and illegal labor, monoculture, and confined animal feeding operations be considered humane or environmentally friendly? And, are such practices in any way organic? My apologies for the rhetorical questions.
I believe the USDA is far removed from the original ideas proposed by the founders of the organic movement. My understanding of the writings of Rudolph Steiner, Sir Albert Howard, J.I. Rodale, J.H. King, and Wendell Berry emphasize agricultural ideals different from those mandates embraced by the USDA. For these reasons EverGreen Farm chooses not to certify organic. In the future I will discuss in great detail an alternative to USDA certification. The program in which we currently participate is Farmer’s Pledge. Following that article I hope to clearly map, document, and visually represent the agricultural beliefs to which our farm adheres.