While there are tens of thousands of foods on the market promoted as “organic,” some just make it within the USDA guidelines for labeling products as organic. Some people feel that labels should be stricter and more accurate, but that is a debate for another day. Just looking at what constitutes the definition of organic by the USDA, you can start with the operative word here, “responsible.” If a farmer is to be truly responsible, they will need to strictly adhere to what makes for an organic producer of the foods we eat. Here are the remaining 3 qualities of a responsible organic farmer.
1. Transparency Is Key
What you should be able to do is check out any farmer or food producer’s website to see just what they consider transparency to be. For example, True Story Foods looks at the entire food chain, from raising animals or growing crops through to the time it reaches the consumer’s table. This company believes that consumers have the right to trace any foods they are going to consume all the way back to the farmer. That may mean looking at processing and storage as well as how the foods are grown. This is one company that holds themselves responsible for the foods which eventually are served at the table. They furthermore hold themselves accountable to both consumers and others in their supply chain.
2. Practitioners of Environmental Stewardship
Any farmer will tell you that the earth under their feet is one of the most important aspects of farming. Whether they are growing produce or raising animals, those commodities will only be as good as the ground in which they are grown. Environmental stewardship means more, however, than looking at the quality of the soil. They are sustainable in all aspects from water, to air and even the way in which foods are produced. Environmental stewards seek alternative, sustainable power as well as the reduction in carbon emissions.
3. Animals Raised in Humane Conditions
One of the most horrifying experiences is to watch how some animals are treated in the food production chain. You can look at hundreds, if not thousands, of videos on YouTube to see just how poorly some animals are treated. Whether you are looking at how they are raised or how they are led to slaughter, the quality of the meat you eat is all dependent on both of these factors. Some ranchers in California lead their cows and pigs to slaughter with light, classical music in the background because of the hormones produced when animals are stressed. These are believed to make meat tough.
While more research needs to be conducted on this subject, the point is, truly responsible organic farmers can be traced through all areas of production. Being responsible and transparent are the qualities to look for when researching the foods that you eat. Animals should be raised humanely and fed organically themselves. Produce should contain no GMOs, chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers. If you can track all of those aspects to organic farming, you will have found a responsible farmer/rancher you can trust.