Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Labels

I recently was talking to a new share member in the farm and was asked why weren't on the list of organic producers that they had picked up at the downtown Big City farmer's market. Our main reason, to be honest, is money and paperwork. I don't have the time or the funds to pursue it right now. As long as I don't gross more than $5000, I don't have to, legally, and can still call my farm organic. It would be nice to someday make more than that, though. I have no intentions of getting too big, though as I like knowing all my shareholders personally, and seeing them each week. You lose that with too much growth. If I lose that, I am not much more than a subscription farm, and that is not why I got into this. But, that is not what I was on to talk about...
I think labels are just that-labels. Not tangible. Sometimes handy, but often times more of a hindrance than is necessary. When the government took over the use and regulation of organic labeling, a lot of organic farms were upset. In doing so, the USDA opened the grassroots movements that so many were passionate about to the big boys, and really disintegrated the meaning of "organic". To we who were passionate about it before the big guns got in on trying to make a little more money, it doesn't hold the same value. Yes, I can now go to the big grocery stores and buy produce or such and know if it has that green label, that there were no chemicals involved, but too often there is more to my food I want to know. Big chicken and egg producers, for example, whether organic or not, grow pretty much the same. The organic ones simply feed organically grown grain. Free range just means the birds aren't in cages. Doesn't mean they get to go outside. They may only have a couple square feet of space per bird. No grass and bugs available. That doesn't sound really appealing. Commercial sized organic growers don't see the necessity of preserving a great bio-diversity so their livestock and seed are generally still hybrids-made for look and ship-ability, not for flavor or permanence. Small farms see the importance and run with it. We are some of these. I only grow open-pollinated and heirloom varieties. That means I can collect the seeds from my veggies and get the same thing the next year, or hold on to them. It means I have a huge wealth of history to choose from each year when planning what to plant. My birds are not hybrids,but varieties our great-great-great-great grandparents grew as well. So, our meat may be smaller than that you get at the store, but the quality-wow. I used some chicken last night, and it was so tender, right off the bird, that it was falling apart before I ever cooked it.
So, the labels-I don't think I have any intention to be labeled. My focus, rather, is on doing things the way I know they should be done, and have honest communication and relationships with my shareholders so they know, whether the gov agrees or not, that I am "organic"-actually more than organic-I just refuse to pay someone to use a word. That is how silly it is in the end. It would be like the news announcing the gov passed a new law that in order to call something "pink", you now have to pay $40 a year. I can see wanting to certify that the object was pink, but not paying to do so....

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous said...

    We always talk to the farmers at the Farmer's Market re: their growing styles. So few small farms have the scratch to become officially organic, and it's not a big priority for most, either. I've heard it's a PITA.

    (Sarah R)

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  2. Abby said...

    It is a pain, for sure. I think that one of the benefits of a small farm is that we don't have to worry. Most people will just ask, and as long as there is a relationship there, they know you are good for your word.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nik said...

    Amen Sista! Amen!

    ReplyDelete

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