What We Are
We get asked, at least daily, if we are organic or natural, or what we are considered. We are not considered organic, and do not raise organic products. There are many things that go into being considered organic, and it is a rather intensive process. Because we have so many different things on our farms, it would be extrememly difficult to be certified organic. We hope that the following information gives you a little insight as to what we are and a little bit of knowledge about our world of organic, naturals, free-range, and more!
There is a lot of promotion and talk about buying or growing organic produce and meats. In order to be truly organic, a producer must go through the steps to be Certified Organic. If a producer is not certified organic, they may not be in compliance of USDA organic regulations, and may not be truly organic. If you aren't sure whether or not you are receiving certified organic produce, meat, or eggs, you should ask to see their labeling. For organics there should be no synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic engineering used.
The National Organic Program regulates all organic crops, agricultural products, and livestock certified to the USDA organic standards. These certification agencies will verify and inspect farmers, ranchers, distributors, processors, and traners to make sure they are in compliance with the USDA organic regulations. There are more than 90 organic certification agencies around the world, and the USDA does audits to make sure they are properly certifying organics. If an operation wants to sell, label, or be represented as organic, they must follow all guidelines set by the USDA organic regulations.
Many people wonder if their food is organic or not. The USDA has an organic seal that those in compliance of the organic regulations are allowed to use. Organic products can be certified if they have 95% or more organic content. Any product that has multiple ingredients, all ingredients must be certified organic.
A label that states "free range" indicates the flock (chickens, turkeys, etc...) were provided shelter. This could have been a building, room, or any area as long as they had unlimited access to food and water, and had continuous access to the outdoors during their production cycle. This area can be fenced or covered with a netting material if the producer so chooses. This label is regulated by the USDA.
Cage free means that the flock was allowed to freely roam in a building, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and water during their production cycle.
The USDA requires that any meat, poultry, or egg products that are labeled as "natural" must have minimal processing, and no artificial ingredients. The "natural" label does no have any requirements for standards regarding farm practices, and it only applies to the processing of egg and meat products. If the product does not contain meat or eggs, there are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural foods.
To be classified as "grass-fed" an animal needs to receive the majority of their nutrients from grass througout their life span. In organic animals, their pasture diet may be supplemented with grain. The USDA also regulates the grass-fed label, but being "grass-fed" doesn't limit the use of antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides. Meat products may be labeled as grass-fed organic.
The USDA has no labeling policy for pasture raised products, due to a large number of variables in a pasture-raised agricultural system.
The labeling program for "humane" labels is not regulated. Many programs make claims that, during their production cycle, the animals were treated humanely. The verification process for these claims varies widely.