Rebel farm­ers cre­ate new food la­bel

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Front Page - By Lisa Rathke

THETFORD, VT. » Was your tomato grown in dirt or wa­ter? Or­ganic shop­pers might no­tice ad­di­tional la­bels this sum­mer that will give them the an­swer — and tell them whether their choices align with what a re­bel­lious group of farm­ers and sci­en­tists deem the true spirit of the or­ganic move­ment.

About 15 farm­ers and scien- tists from around the coun­try met in Ver­mont late last month to cre­ate the stan­dards for an ad­di­tional or­ganic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram, which they plan to roll out na­tion­ally to be­tween 20 to 60 farms as a pilot this sum­mer.

Under the cur­rent U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture pro­gram, the or­ganic la­bel means that your tomato has been pro­duced with­out syn­thetic sub­stances — with some ex­cep-

tions - and with­out cer­tain meth­ods, like ge­netic en­gi­neer­ing. The ad­di­tional la- bel, which does not yet have a name or word­ing, would in­di­cate that a tomato, for ex­am­ple, has been grown in soil, and that meat and dairy prod­ucts came from farms that pas­ture their an­i­mals. An in­spec­tor would cer­tify that the farm has com­plied with the new stan­dards, and the farms — not dis­trib­u­tors— would add the la­bel.

The move comes five months af­ter the Na­tional Or­ganic Stan­dard Board, which ad­vises the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, voted against a pro­posal to ex­clude from the USDA’s or­ganic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram hy­dro­pon­ics— rais­ing plants with wa­ter but no soil — and aquapon­ics, in which plants and aquatic an­i­mals, such as fish, are grown within one sys­tem.

“I think that a lot of farm­ers, es­pe­cially young farm­ers, feel that the or­ganic la­bel no longer de­scribes the way they farm, and we’re try­ing to re­cap­ture that,” said Lin­ley Dixon, a veg­etable farmer in Du­rango, Colorado, and se­nior sci­en­tist for Cor­nu­copia In­sti­tute, who is also on the stan­dards board of the Real Or­ganic Project.


In this photo, green­house man­ager Os­car Ruiz prunes or­ganic tomato plants grow­ing in a green­house at Long Wind Farm in Thetford, Vt. Farm owner Dave Chap­man is a leader of a farmer-driven ef­fort to cre­ate an ad­di­tional or­ganic la­bel that would ex­clude...

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