Special Report: Truth About Organic

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The demand for organic food is growing fast. That’s because more and more people want to buy products that haven’t been genetically altered or sprayed with chemicals.

Numbers from the Organic Trade Association show that 81% of American families are now buying organic food. Many consumers rely on the organic label to tell them their food is safe but some truly don’t know how it’s grown and the requirements farmers must follow to market their products organic. Cane Creek Valley Farm in Fletcher is one of many organic farms in the United States to earn a special certification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You can find their fruits and vegetables at the farmers market or in stores like Ingles, Earthfare and Kroger.

“There’s no fungicides, herbicides, chemicals that are used during production. Everything that we do spray is from a natural source,” said Amanda Sizemore, co-owner of Cane Creek Valley Farm.

Amanda Sizemore, who owns the farm with her husband, said the certification can cost thousands of dollars and it comes with a set of strict set of guidelines. It includes submitting an annual organic system plan and inspections of the farm’s fields and processing facilities.

“The U.S.D.A. has three inspectors that come out twice a year. Samples are taken randomly at the warehouses where we ship and they’re also taken randomly from the fields here,” said Sizemore.

Soil management, record keeping, pest control methods, cleaning and storage are some of the things the U.S.D.A. checks..

“They get you financially if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing and they take your certification and then your business is done,” said Sizemore.

What about those products labeled organic in the grocery store from other countries. The U.S.D.A. also has organizations that certify and monitor their production too but the rules are different for those farmers not certified. By law a farmer cannot use the term organic if they are not certified. Anne Grier, who owns gaining ground farm in Leicester, said she does not use chemical fertilizers, synthetic herbicides or insecticides on her vegetables.

“There probably is, in actuality, very little difference between how the two of us like carrying out our farming philosophy,” said Anne Grier, co-owner of Gaining Ground Farm. ” We don’t feel like we need to be certified because we are not large enough that we need to.”

There is no regulatory agency monitoring an un-certified organic farm’s production it’s up to the consumers to establish a relationship with the grower to ensure the practices are being maintained.

“We have a personal relationship with every single person we’re selling to. there’s no middle person for any of our products,” said Grier.

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