Please tell the NOSB to recommend that hydroponics be removed from organic. To do so, you can sign the Organic Consumers Association’s e-petition by clicking HERE.
Important: The deadline to act is 11:59pm tonight, so don’t delay.
One of the most controversial aspects of organic is that hydroponically-grown vegetables are being allowed under the USDA’s National Organic Program.
Why is this a problem?
Organic was founded on the basis of growing plants in the soil. Period.
People buy organic because it tastes better, has superior nutrition, and is optimal for the environment. And this is all the result of the rich soil in organic farms.
Despite the fact that it does have tremendous value to society, growing plants in water — hydroponics — is just not organic. The language in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990, which was ratified by Congress, affirms this stance.
The USDA defines soil as:
(i) The unconsolidated mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the Earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants. (ii) The unconsolidated mineral or organic matter on the surface of the Earth that has been subjected to and shows effects of genetic and environmental factors of climate (including water and temperature effects), and macro- and microorganisms, conditioned by relief, acting on parent material over a period of time.
Section 6513 b-1 of OFPA says that:
An organic plan shall contain provisions designed to foster soil fertility, primarily through the management of the organic content of the soil through proper tillage, crop rotation, and manuring.
Because of this language, hydroponics or other container growing systems cannot be legally justified under OFPA. Hydroponics should have its own certification outside of the USDA’s National Organic Program.
Aside from the legality of this issue, hydroponics is creating an unlevel playing field among organic farmers and causing financial ruin for some of them.
According to Dave Chapman, an organic farmer at Long Wind Farm in Vermont and the co-founder of Keep the Soil in Organic, “Hydroponics negatively impacts farmers who grow the same crops in the soil. Hydro is cheaper, and it is cheaper to feed the plant instead of the soil. I personally know of two farms (one small and one large) whose greenhouse production was put out of business by the hydro invasion. The impact is significant for all vegetable farmers selling into the wholesale market because all large supermarket chains have moved to the cheaper Mexican hydroponic as their preferred organic tomato, pushing out both smaller regional growers and also the larger soil based growers in California, Florida, and Mexico.”
“Interestingly, for Long Wind Farm, the hydro invasion has actually helped us in the marketplace because the hydros have sadly wiped out all our good competition. In the New England market, we are almost alone in offering a good tasting organic tomato to the supermarkets. This is good for us in the marketplace, but terrible for everyone else,” he continued.
At this month’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, the board may be voting on this hydroponics issue, and it is critical that they hear your voice.
Please tell the NOSB to recommend that hydroponics be removed from organic. To do so, you can sign:
Next 7’s e-petition by clicking HERE.
Organic Consumers Association’s e-petition by clicking HERE.
As Dave Chapman has said, “We are in a final battle for the soul of the organic label.”
And this is one fight we cannot lose.
Thank you so much for supporting organic food and organic farmers.
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