Beyond Organic

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Local is the new organic. Knowing how your food is raised, harvested, and processed means the world to people who understand that our health is determined in large part by what we eat. The USDA organic label means a lot of things. It carries with it certain guarantees, but not all the guarantees that people may attribute to it.

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For example, USDA organic DOES mean non-GMO seeds. It DOES mean no harmful chemical pesticides or fertilizers. But you can buy certified organic frozen vegetables in a bag that is “microwave-ready,” and the bag has probably been treated with harmful carcinogens. The food inside is organic, but it is not as healthy to microwave and eat as you might think. Same with most organic canned foods. The cans themselves are treated with chemicals that are not listed and that we know little about. Fresh organic produce comes with lots of advantages, but packaged organic foods are subject to a lot of compromises that are the result of pressure on the organic standards by large industrial food companies.

For some people, the humane treatment of animals is the most important criteria in food selection. USDA organic does not speak to that at all. Eggs can be organic if the chickens laying them are fed organic feed, even if they are raised with factory-farming practices, in confinement, with clipped beaks, etc. And eggs can be labeled “cage-free” or “free-roaming” even if the chickens that lay them have never set foot outside. If the door is opened for 15 minutes a day, then the chickens are deemed to have had the “opportunity” to go outside and can be called cage-free, even though the farmer and the USDA know they never will.

Organic_StrawberriesLabels on foods are usually an attempt to market products to consumers, not to share information with people about their food. BUT, if you know your farmer, and shop for local, organic, “clean food,” you have a much better chance to make healthy choices for your body, mind, and soul. There is no substitute for visiting a farm, or for knowing someone who knows the farm. At our farm, visitors are free to come and look at the pigs rooting around in the woods outside their barn. See the chickens scratching around outside their coop. See the cows grazing on the organic grass. Check out our barn. You will not find any pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

When we wanted fresh goat’s milk for our infant son, we drove two hours to a goat dairy farm in central Pennsylvania and saw for ourselves how the goats were living, how they were treated and how clean the processing equipment was in the dairy, etc. Thanks to the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture for providing us with a list of all their member dairy farms. Few people have time to go on missions like that. But buying local food from a trustworthy, known source makes a huge difference. For us, it brings a confidence that we are making the best choices for our health and well-being that the organic label alone does not provide.

Profeta Farms is proud to provide clean, organic,
humanely-raised foods for our New Jersey community and beyond!