Healthy soils. Healthy water. Healthy ecosystems. Healthy animals. Healthy people.
There are many reasons to choose organic. Organic farms rely on natural systems—such as crop rotation and beneficial insects—that create healthy soils and ecosystems. Farm animals are allowed regular access to the outdoors, are fed 100% organic feed, and are free of antibiotics and synthetic hormones. The result is a food and farm system that is healthier for people, animals, and the environment.
When you purchase organic food and farm products from regionally-based farms, you help strengthen the local economy and preserve open spaces. As a result, farms can continue to be financially viable and farmland can remain within our communities.
When we make a commitment to buying organic food and locally-produced farm products, we are improving our diet, strengthening our communities, and safeguarding our planet. To help you find delicious, fresh, healthy food within your region we offer an online Food and Farm Directory as well as a print version of the guide that we send to our members annually.
Defining “Certified Organic”
“Certified Organic” means that a USDA-accredited certification agency has verified that the production practices used meet the requirements outlined in the National Organic Program (NOP) Standards. The NOP Standards are based on the principles of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 with this basic concept: healthy soil is the foundation for healthy plants and animals.
Certified organic operations must apply for certification each year. This involves an annual on-farm inspection, submitting an organic system plan, maintaining detailed records, and paying an annual certification fee. Once certified, operations must notify the certifier of any changes to their operation to ensure continued compliance. To see highlights of certification requirements, click here.
Defining “Certified Grass Fed”
As a consumer, you may have noticed a new labeling term popping up on store shelves in the meat and dairy departments: “grass fed” or “100% grass fed.” Grass fed products are produced from animals that are only allowed to eat grass and forages, while reducing or eliminating the feeding of grains. The grass fed term is currently not regulated by the federal government except in the case of meat production. However, there are certification agencies that have developed their own certification programs and regulations to allow for third party verification of the labeling term.
Under the NOFA-NY Certified 100% Grass Fed program, animals are not allowed to be fed grain or grain by-products at any time in their lives. Only grass and forages are allowed, with the exception of milk for calves prior to weaning. Beef animals must never have been fed grain. Dairy animals require a 90-day transition to grass fed production before their milk is considered grass fed.
Please visit our 100% Grass Fed Certification page for a pdf of our standards manual.
To read more about the USDA grass fed program for beef producers, click here.
Defining Farmer’s Pledge™
To help consumers identify the farms they want to support with their food dollars, NOFA-NY established the Farmer’s Pledge. The Farmers Pledge describes sustainable practices in a document that growers can attest is an accurate description of how they farm. Please note that the Farmer’s Pledge is NOT a substitute for organic certification, a service whereby a third party scrutinizes a detailed farm plan, inspects the farm, and then has the farm's paper records reviewed by qualified peers for compliance with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) regulations.
Past issues of New York Organic News