Good Food, Organic and Otherwise
Most people are aware that organically grown food is free from exposure to harmful chemicals, but that is only one small part of what organic is about.
A larger part of organic agriculture involves the health of the soil and of the ecosystems in which crops and livestock are raised. Organic agriculture is born from the idea that a healthy environment significantly benefits crops and the health of those consuming them. In addition, organic practices are also viable in the long term, since they are efficient in their use of resources, and do not damage the environment and local communities like large scale "chemical agriculture" does.
LocalHarvest does not restrict its listings to organic producers only, since our mission is first and foremost to support small growers, and then to promote Organic agriculture.
We do track our growers' organic status with the following categories:
There are many organizations worldwide that certify produce as being grown in a manner that does not harm the environment and that preserves or improves soil fertility, soil structure, and farm sustainability. Farms that are certified organic are shown as such in LocalHarvest.
Some of our farms prefer not to pursue an organic certification, but do follow organic principles in growing their produce.
CNG is a grassroots certification program created specifically for farmers that sell locally and directly to their customers. CNG's certification standards are based on the National Organic Program but with some variation, including improved livestock living conditions and more explicit access to pasture requirements.
Organic certification standards are very strict, and it usually takes years for farms the achieve them, as all pesticide and chemical residue from the soil is slowly broken down and leached away. Farms marked as "Transitional" are farms in the process of getting their certification, but that are not quite there yet.
Conventional farming does not necessarily have to be as destructive as large scale chemical agriculture. There are many small farms worldwide that sparingly use chemicals when needed, and that otherwise follow good guidelines in the care of their environments and communities. We list those farms in LocalHarvest too.
Based on a series of lectures given by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in 1924, Biodynamics is a method of agriculture which seeks to actively work with the health-giving forces of nature. It is the oldest non-chemical agricultural movement, predating the organic agriculture movement by some 20 years and has now spread throughout the world.
Grass fed, or pastured, animals are raised on pasture, as opposed to being kept in confinement and fed primarily grains. Pasturing livestock and poultry is the traditional method of raising farm animals, is ecologically sustainable, humane, and produces the most nutritious meat, dairy and eggs.