The Ins and Outs of Organic: What does organic even mean?


Many times I get asked how our meat is produced.  I usually respond “well, it's certified organic, pasture raised.”  I usually get back a “oh, it's pastured, okay, I'll take xyz.”  Most people totally skip over the organic part and to me that's the MOST important part!!  I think it's because organic is the lesser known term.  The majority know what pastured means, but what does it mean to be organic?


The term organic comes from the Greek word “organikos," relating to the organs of the body. “This term was later generalized to mean characteristics pertaining too, or derived from, living organisms."  Such as in organic chemistry, the identification of substances that are living, or have a carbon atom. 


Organic certification is not an easy thing to achieve.  There is a huge book called the NOP or National Organic Program Standards. This book outlines all the ins and outs of the Organics Program. To be a part of this program you're required to feed your animals only organic feed, if your animals are pastured, the pastures have to be certified organic too.  That means you have to prove that you haven't applied any pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides for at least 3 years.  Providing a plethora of documentation and yearly inspections are part of the routine as well.  You have to be stellar at record keeping and make sure you tag all animals promptly upon birth.  No antibiotics, chemical dewormers, or pesticides can be applied to your livestock at any time.  You must also raise an animal, with the exception of chickens, from the last 3rd of their gestation, organically…..and have the paperwork to “prove” it.


There are a lot of nuances that go with the responsibility of raising organic livestock, too many to list here.  However, we felt getting organic certified was important because we want the public to know exactly how their food is being raised.  No other term, besides organic, is regulated.  Therefore, terms like regenerative, pastured, free range, grass fed, and others can mean whatever the farmers wants them too and you're going to get a multitude of definitions to fit the farmers current production model.  These terms will also change with time.  Whatever the narrative is being pushed or if terms become “outdated.” However, one term will remain the same….Organic!


I hope this helps shed some light on the term organic and why it's so important.  I do believe that there are farmers that are raising crops/livestock organically that are not certified for various reasons.  However, I would encourage you to ask your farmer hard questions.  Know why they employ a certain production model and more importantly know where your food is coming from. Make sure it's food you can feel good about eating and feeding your family!  


These are the ins and outs of organic.  I hope to see you soon at the farmers market.  Come say hi and ask me some hard questions!






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