[Market-farming] "organic"

Kate Halstead rockyprairie at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 23 12:09:22 EDT 2007

As I understand it, you can label your products 'organic' for the purposes
for sale if, 1) you are certified by a recognized organization such as
Oregon Tilth; or 2) You use the same techniques, etc. as are required for
the certified program, but sell less than a total of $5,000 worth of
products in a year.

Outside of those two sets of parameters, the word is prohibited for usage.

Having seen a number of farmers market vendors outright lie about being
organic, even with this rule in place, and knowing the worst they ever get
is an admonishment to 'not do that' or perhaps a fine for the worst repeat
offenders, it doesn't seem to be that big a co-opt by the government.

In Washington, most farmers market managers will not let any one use the
word organic in the signage if they are not certified. But I've never seen
them prohibit someone from explaining that they use organic practices to
potential customers.

We also have folks (usually tree fruit vendors) that claim to be 'no spray,
or 'no pesticides.' Both have got to be lies in virtually all cases, since
there are few (if any) certified organic growers that do not spray something
on their tress (even if it's just fish emulsion and kelp) or use some sort
of pesticide--a generic term that also includes everything listed for
approved use in the USDA program.

While I dislike the government getting involved with the whole thing, the
fact is there is too much money to be made by being unscrupulous and using
the term organic. Unfortunately, the many good growers out there who
practice beyond organic and do not want the headaches of certification, must
bear the burden for the few that wish to take advantage of a money-making


-----Original Message-----
From: market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Allan
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2007 8:50 AM
To: Market Farming
Subject: [Market-farming] "organic"

It's been my understanding that 'they stole our word.'

Now knowledgeable people tell me that I can legally refer to my organically
grown produce as 'organic' as long as I do not say 'organically certified,'
which I am not.

My question: is this true? I thought the USDA now 'owns' the word and that
'organic' legally means the same as 'organically certified by the USDA' if I
use it in conjunction with produce. Since I am not USDA certified, I cannot
use it.

If I could use 'organic' in my advertising, though, it would sure cut
through a lot of workaround verbage.

Do you know? Who is right? Paranoid me or my new friends who say that
'organic' is just fine for a non-certified farm?

Thanks -Allan
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