Many people shop labels. Whether its high fashion or expensive cars, a label costs more; it means something to the consumer. Food is no different. People who care about the quality of the food they put in their body read labels. If a label reads “high fructose corn syrup” or “trans fat” an informed consumer will bypass this product. Whether a food has an organic label or not is also important information for today’s foodies. If a product has the seal “USDA Organic” the consumer knows that the food was grown or prepared using organic practices and ingredients; however, the producer has paid a fee to the government to obtain that certification.
Many small farmers cannot afford the high cost of the government’s organic label. According to the Organic Trade Association, referenced in this article on Change.org, 92 percent of organic food sold in this country is sold by mass markets, like Wal-Mart, Costco, or grocery store chains. By comparison, only 8 percent comes from farmers markets, co-ops, or CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture).
Quite often the small farmers have organic growing practices; they just don’t pay for the expensive label. How do you get this important information? It’s easy; simply start a conversation with the person you are buying your food from. When you visit the farmers market and you see they do not have an organic label, ask why? Ask them about their growing practices. Do they use pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals? You won’t know until you ask.
Do you only shop for products with the “USDA Organic” label? Do local farmers in your area provide an opportunity to talk about their growing practices? What are your conversations like?