Is It Really Organic?

April 8th 2021

by Abigail Harris, Executive Director, Provender Alliance

Recently, a lawsuit lost in court that had been filed against the USDA for certifying hydroponics as organic. The case was a group effort initiated by the Center for Food Safety* and includes Dave Chapman, an organic farmer and director of the Real Organic Project (ROP). [Read “I Fought the Law and the Law Won”]

Ouch. And ouch again. This means the USDA will continue certifying over a billion dollars of hydroponic production as organic — much of which is grown without any actual soil at all, which is a core tenet of the definition of organic. 

I was disheartened at first but not surprised about this watering down of the organic label. Addressing the corporate agenda that puts profit above people and the environment can be daunting for all of us in the natural and organic movement. 

At the same time, I have hope. I’m super excited about what the Real Organic Project is doing, certifying organic farms which are growing food in soil (not hydroponics that makes no soil improvements) and raising animals on pasture (not industrial CAFOs). Their commitment to Organic is to the spirit of the law, not just to the letter of the law.

One of Provender Alliance’s own members, Legend Organic Farm (of Nature’s Path Foods), is certified by the Real Organic Project. I see ROP’s “real organic” farmer-led alliance as parallel to Provender members’ network, upholding natural and organic integrity through the products we sell or produce, labor practices, ownership structures, ingredient choices, and social & environmental justice. 

Provender’s members are part of the fertile soil of the natural foods movement, and embody it through the daily endeavors and decisions made at work. 

Your commitment and integrity are there while stocking the shelves, working on spreadsheets, sourcing ingredients, interacting with customers, or whatever your role is in the natural products trade.

It’s important, although sometimes difficult to remember, that our everyday actions determine our relationship with the world and the outcome of what our future holds. While it may seem we face formidable challenges, it’s essential to see that what we share as values-driven Provender Alliance members makes a real difference.


Related Article: (Cornucopia Institute)