Accurate Labeling of Local Produce: What’s in a Word?
As purveyors of fresh produce and other products from local farms, GFGP strives to be clear and informative about farm production methods to our customers. Following are definitions of legal/generally recognized terms used for marketing local products through GFGP.
We do not distribute products that have been grown with genetically modified seeds or plants.
GFGP is completely GMO Free!
ORGANIC/CERTIFIED ORGANIC/ORGANICALLY GROWN: Under the federal National Organic Program (NOP) law, the “O Word” or any form thereof may be only employed for farms that have been inspected by an approved third-party agency (who is itself audited by the USDA). This rigorous certification process requires a detailed paper trail to prove the farm’s claims of organic production. Growers maintain trace-back records of every crop from Non-GMO seed through sale, including documentation of approved fertilizers and pesticides, crop rotation, tillage programs, safe harvesting and packing routines. Growers do not use any genetically modified seeds or plants. Certification costs exceed $1000.00 per year. GFGP reserves use of ORGANIC, CERTIFIED ORGANIC AND ORGANICALLY GROWN for growers who have successfully completed a bona fide certification program.
CERTIFIED NATURALLY-GROWN: This is a new peer-review system that some small growers are employing to distinguish their products. Standards are very similar to Certified Organic (including no use of genetically modified seeds or plants), but the program is much less costly financially and less demanding in terms of paper work. On-farm inspections are undertaken by other local farmers in the program who understand its ideals and goals. Although this system is much more honor-based than USDA certification, it is gaining popularity among local farmers as a cost-effective and community-based model of self-regulation.
BIOLOGICALLY-GROWN/BIO-GROWN: This is GFGP’s own in-house term and has no legal definition outside our “trust certified,” face-to-face relationship with each grower. Given the extensive and expensive demands of the USDA Organic Certification program, many small farmers are unable to cost-justify this marketing handle. After years of considering other terms like “unsprayed” (organic folks do spray, just not synthetic pesticides), “chemical free” (hard to imagine food without the chemicals that compose the food itself!), “natural” (what does that mean??)—we’ve settled on BIO-GROWN to indicate “grown under certifiable practices, but not legally third-party certified.” We feel confident that bio-grown products from trusted suppliers have not been exposed to synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, and that growers use Non-GMO plants/seeds as well as environmentally-friendly tillage and soil building techniques.
CONVENTIONAL: This descriptor has replaced the old and inaccurate term “commercial” for crops that have been subjected to practices or inputs that are not acceptable by organic consensus. Since a wide spectrum of practices are lumped together under the category of “CONVENTIONAL” (ranging from “minimally-sprayed” through “industrially-raised”) a further explanation may accompany this term. All conventional crops marketed through GFGP will be accurately labeled to encourage transparency and promote consumer choice. No GMO crops are allowed under GFGP’s definition of “Conventional” or any other category.
At every opportunity, GFGP strives to support organic and natural practices, resorting to conventional suppliers only when absolutely necessary. Many crops are difficult or impossible to produce on a commercial (for sale) scale in our region without sprays that hold back epidemic pests and diseases (i.e. tree fruits and sweet corn). Faced with a choice of “conventional” product or NO product, GFGP believes that well-informed and well-fed customers are happier than customers who need to shop at chain stores to fulfill their food needs with non-local products.
We at GFGP also believe that the best way to promote organic ethics is to work with local growers toward realistic (vs. idealistic) goals that account for weather and market conditions, rather than to eschew them for their current methods. We make our preferences clear to growers as we encourage them with better prices, information and grower assistance toward lower toxin substances as well as preventative practices that minimize the need for sprays. Over the course of our 15-year existence, many GFGP suppliers have altered their practices to meet our—and your—requests for cleaner food. Now that’s progress!!