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Fresh Alternative to Failed USDA Organic Farming Standards

You may recall a popular piece I wrote last week about Betsy Ross who spent 12 years converting her Texas ranch to one in line with organic principles. At the time, Ross pointed out she hadn't attempted to complete the USDA's rigid and, no doubt, failed organic certification process.

This interesting feature describes, in alarming detail, why some established organic ranchers and farmers have shied away from having their businesses approved by the USDA, much of it having to do with ridiculously escalated costs -- the monies involved range in the thousands -- and mounds of paperwork that require them to create a detailed organic plan. And, there's that three-year wait before farmers could "legally" label the foods they grow organic too...

Folks, there is good news here: Some farmers are working around those onerous federal standards that mega-corporations like Wal-Mart twist like pretzels to their own liking, and, instead, applying for certification through Certified Naturally Grown (CNG). This New York-based non-profit group holds farmers to the same standards as the USDA plan, but the cost is far lower -- a suggested donation of $150 -- and not nearly as much paperwork.

And, many of these CNG-approved farms are listed among the fresh sources for locally grown foods (among them Local Harvest) I posted last year.

USA Today April 24, 2007

The News Journal April 16, 2007