Find a local pick your own farm here!

Notes for August 2017: Blueberries and peaches are going still in northern and cooler areas, but are mostly finished in the Deep South. Blackberries, figs,  and raspberries are in season now. Tomatoes are going strong, although the crop is way diminished in rainy areas like the southeast.  Strawberries are finished, except in the far north, and if the farm planted Day Neutral varieties. Early apples, like Gala, are about to start!

Children's Consignment Sales occur in both the Spring and Fall  See our companion website to find a local community or church kid's consignment sale!

Next year, don't miss an Easter Egg Hunt for your children: See our companion website to find a local Easter Egg hunt!

We also have home canning, preserving, drying and freezing directions. You can access recipes and other resources from the drop down menus at the top of the page or the site search. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to write me! It is easy to make your own ice cream, even gelato, or low fat or low sugar ice cream - see this page. Also note, there are many copycat website listing U-pick farms now.  They have all copied their information form here and usually do not ever update.  Since 2002, I've been updating the information every day but Christmas; so if you see anything wrong, please write me!

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What Does Organic Mean? The Facts about Organic Food Standards and Labels

People often ask where they can find an organic PYO farm.  A few U-pick farms are, most aren't. Some follow the practices, without seeking certification (getting certified can be expensive).  If they aren't certified (or following the small quantity exemption), I always ask when they last sprayed and what they used. But what does it mean to be "certified organic"? The U.S. Department of Agriculture has put in place a set of national standards that food labeled "organic" must meet, whether it is grown in the United States or imported from other countries.  USDA's National Organic Program regulates the standards for any farm, wild crop harvesting, or handling operation that wants to sell an agricultural product as organically produced. After October 21, 2002, when you buy food labeled "organic," you can be sure that it was produced using the highest organic production and handling standards in the world. The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (NSAIS) describes organic farm certification and the National Organic Program this way:

In essence, organic certification is a simple concept. A third party—an organic certifying agent—evaluates producers, processors, and handlers to determine whether they conform to an established set of operating guidelines called organic standards. Those who conform are certified by the agent and allowed to use a logo, product statement, or certificate to document their product as certified organic. In other words, the certifier vouches for the producer and assures buyers of the organic product's integrity...

Small Quantity Exemption

Organic farms and businesses with less than $5,000 in gross annual organic sales 7 CFR 205.101(a) may identify their produce as an organic product or ingredients in a multi-ingredient organic product as organic But the farm must not use the USDA organic seal or the seal of a certifying agency to market products. 7 CFR 205.310 (a)(1) and must not represent agricultural products as certified organic, or as a certified organic ingredient to any buyer. 7 CFR 205.310 (a)(2).

In other words, as long as their total gross sales of organic produce and products from their farm is under $5,000 annually, they may call it organic, but not "certified organic".

Steps to Organic Certification

The steps to becoming a certified organic producer are very basic. The five that follow are typical, though variations might apply in different circumstances.

1. Identify a suitable certifier

2. Submit an application

3. Completeness Review

4. On-farm inspection

5. Final review

The NSAIS has a complete description of what is involved in each step on this page.

If you are interested in health, environmental health, and safety issues, see our sister site www.ehso.com , environmental health and safety online, for free information.

What is organic food?

Organic food is produced by farmers who avoid the use of bio-persistent nonselective chemical pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers. Farmers emphasize the use of renewable (or sustainable) resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. 

The USDA says:

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.  Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.  Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.  Before a product can be labeled ‘organic,' a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.  Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too." Consumer Brochure, USDA National Organic Program

The specifics vary depending upon the type of food and its method of production.  For example, Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.  Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineer seed or plants; or ionizing radiation.  

Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.  Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

What are some other differences between conventional farming and organic farming?

 The Mayo Clinic provides this comparison:

Conventional farmers Organic farmers
Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth. Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.
Spray insecticides to reduce pests and disease. Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.
Use chemical herbicides to manage weeds. Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.
Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth. Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.

Is organic food better for me and my family?

The USDA makes no claims that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food.  In fact, Consumer Reports found NO, let me repeat NO differences in nutritional value between organic and non organic foods. Of course, nutritional value does not include the impact of pesticide resides, which is a different topic. I certainly don't want to eat pesticide residues!

Organic food differs from conventionally produced food in the way it is grown, handled, and processed.  Some are considered "better", but for some foods it may not really make a difference (in terms of health benefits).  An example of the latter is fruits with a thick inedible skin, like bananas, avocados or oranges.  Studies show that pesticides applied  do not enter the edible portions.  And in processed foods studies again show that there is no measurable difference between organic and non-organic.  For example, a jar of organic spaghetti sauce has the same nutritional value as the non-organic variety. The biggest difference come sin fresh and frozen unprocessed fruits and vegetables. In general, though, it is safe to safe that organic , and more particularly, "sustainably grown" foods are better overall, considering the nutritional value, absence of chemical residues, and less adverse affect upon the environment.

A number of recent studies, articles and reports conclude that nutritional analysis shows few or no measurable differences:

  • The Mayo Clinic - "No conclusive evidence shows that organic food is more nutritious than is conventionally grown food. And the USDA — even though it certifies organic food — doesn't claim that these products are safer or more nutritious."
  • CNN - "But no matter how the product is labeled, Avery said the message should be clear: 'The label does not imply organic food is healthier, safer or better for you in any way. It's purely a marketing label.' "

.... which stands to reason. A plant's structure ought not to be able to know the difference between a nitrate ion dissolved in the water in the soil that can from a bag of fertilizer, or one that cam from cow manure.  After all, NO3 is NO3.  And certainly the freshness of the food, how it is handled, stored and transported would likely impact nutritional content far more than organic / non-organic production.

But that is not to say that there are not important reasons; health, personal, environmental and social to prefer organically raised foods. Pesticide residues, for example, wouldn't be measure in a nutritional analysis, but they certainly could affect your long term health and potential for cancers or other illnesses.

Consumer Reports says that it does make sense to buy these foods grown organically: Apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, strawberries, Meat, poultry, eggs, dairy and baby foods.

A Downside to Organic?

Yes, there is.  If you have been following the news for the past 10 years, you may have noticed the dramatic rise in food poisoning cases arising from consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables. Especially, E. coli.  With few exceptions, that comes from organically raised crops or those using manures rather than chemical fertilizers. Do you give your children a Flintsones chewable vitamin? Chemical fertilizers, like "Miracle-Gro" or a bag of common "10-10-10" that you can buy at  Home Depot, are essentially, the same thing for plants.  There's NO way they can hurt you, the consumer of the produce.  Yes, if the farm uses too much and it runs off into streams, it can cause an algae bloom and other environmnetal issues.  But since fertilizers are expensive, any farmer who isn't a moron, uses it as carefully as possible,

When I go to a farm or the supermarket, how can I tell organically produced food from conventionally produced food?

You must look at package labels and watch for signs in the supermarket.  Along with the national organic standards, USDA developed strict labeling rules to help consumers know the exact organic content of the food they buy.  The USDA Organic seal also tells you that a product is at least 95 percent organic.
                                                                       

USDA Organic Seal

Single-ingredient foods

Look for the word "organic" and a small sticker version of the USDA Organic seal on vegetables or pieces of fruit.  Or they may appear on the sign above the organic produce display.

The word "organic" and the seal may also appear on packages of meat, cartons of milk or eggs, cheese, and other single-ingredient foods.

Foods with more than one ingredient

The following photo shows examples of the labels that may be used on a wide variety of products that use organic ingredients.

 A Photograph depicting the organic program's labeling categories
Click photo of follow this link for larger image of cereal boxes.

The sample cereal boxes show the four labeling categories.  From left:  cereal with 100 percent organic ingredients; cereal with 95-100 percent organic ingredients; cereal made with at least 70 percent organic ingredients; and cereal with less than 70 percent organic ingredients.  Products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients may list specific organically produced ingredients on the side panel of the package, but may not make any organic claims on the front of the package.  Look for the name and address of the Government-approved certifier on all packaged products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.

Will I find the USDA Organic seal on all 100 percent organic products, or products with at least 95 percent organic ingredients?

No. The use of the seal is voluntary.

How is use of the USDA Organic seal protected?

People who sell or label a product "organic" when they know it does not meet USDA standards can be fined up to $10,000 for each violation.

Does natural mean organic?

No. Natural and organic are not interchangeable.  Other truthful claims, such as free-range, hormone-free, and natural, can still appear on food labels.  However, don't confuse these terms with "organic."  Only food labeled "organic" has been certified as meeting USDA organic standards.

For more detailed information on the USDA organic standards, visit the USDA National Organic Program website or call the National Organic Program at 202-720-3252, or write USDA-AMS-TM-NOP, Room 4008 S. Bldg., Ag Stop 0268, 1400 Independence, SW, Washington, DC 20250.

Labeling Package Products

These requirements do not preempt Food and Drug Administration; USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service; or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms labeling regulations or label approval requirements.

Letter Codes for the information below indicate position on package and are defined as follows:

PDP:  Principal Display Panel
IP: Information Panel
IS: Ingredients Statement
OP: Any Other Panel

If you want to claim:  "100 percent Organic" (or similar statement)
Your product: Must contain 100 percent organically produced ingredients, not counting added water and salt.
Your label MUST: Show an ingredient statement when the product consists of more than one ingredient.

Show below the name and address of the handler (bottler, distributor, importer, manufacturer, packer, processor, etc.) of the finished product, the statement:

"Certified organic by ____" or similar phrase, followed by the name of the Certifying Agent.  Certifying Agent seals may not be used to satisfy this requirement. (IP)

Your label MAY show: The term "100 percent organic" to modify the product name. (PDP/IP/OP)

The term, "organic" to identify the organic ingredients1.  Water and salt included as ingredients must not be identified as organic. (IS)

The USDA organic seal and/or certifying agent seal(s). (PDP/OP)

The certifying agent business/Internet address or telephone number. (IP)

Your label MUST NOT show: Not applicable

1 To identify an ingredient as organically produced, in the ingredients statement, use the word, "organic" in conjunction with the name of the ingredient, or an asterisk or other reference mark which is defined below the ingredient statement.

 


 
If you want to claim: "Organic" (or similar statement)
Your product: Must contain at least 95% organic ingredients, not counting added water and salt.

Must not contain added sulfites.

May contain up to 5% of:

  1. nonorganically produced agricultural ingredients which are not commercially available in organic form; and/or
  2. other substances allowed by 7 CFR 205.605.
Your label MUST: Show an ingredient statement.

List the organic ingredients as "organic" when other organic labeling is shown.1  Water and salt included as ingredients must not be identified as organic. (IS)

Show below the name and address of the handler (bottler, distributor, importer, manufacturer, packer, processor, etc.) of the finished product, the statement:

"Certified organic by ___" or similar phrase, followed by the name of the Certifying Agent.  Certifying Agent seals may not be used to satisfy this requirement.  (IP)

Your label MAY show: The term "Organic" to modify the product name. (PDP/IP/OP)

"X% organic" or "X% organic ingredients." (PDP/IP/OP)

The USDA Organic seal and/or certifying agent seal(s). (PDP/OP)

The certifying agent business/Internet address or telephone number. (IP)

Your label MUST NOT show: Not applicable

1 To identify an ingredient as organically produced, in the ingredients statement, use the word, "organic" in conjunction with the name of the ingredient, or an asterisk or other reference mark which is defined below the ingredient statement.

 


 
If you want to claim: "Made with Organic Ingredients" (or similar statement)
Your product: Must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, not counting added water and salt.

Must not contain added sulfites; except that, wine may contain added sulfur dioxide in accordance with 7 CFR 205.605.

May contain up to 30% of:

  1. non-organically produced agricultural ingredients; and/or
  2. other substances, including yeast, allowed by 7 CFR 205.605.
Your label MUST: Show an ingredient statement.

List the organic ingredients as "organic" when other organic labeling is shown.1  Water and salt included as ingredients must not be identified as organic. (IS)

Show below the name and address of the handler (bottler, distributor, importer, manufacturer, packer, processor, etc.) of the finished product, the statement:

"Certified organic by ___" or similar phrase, followed by the name of the Certifying Agent.  Certifying Agent seals may not be used to satisfy this requirement.  (IP)

Your label MAY show: The term "Made with organic ___ (specified ingredients or food groups)." (PDP/IP/OP)

"X% organic" or "X% organic ingredients." (PDP/IP/OP)

The certifying agent seal(s). (PDP/OP)

The certifying agent business/Internet address or telephone number. (IP)

Your label MUST NOT show: The USDA Organic seal

1 To identify an ingredient as organically produced, in the ingredients statement, use the word, "organic" in conjunction with the name of the ingredient, or an asterisk or other reference mark which is defined below the ingredient statement.
 


 
If you want to claim: That your product has some organic ingredients

Your product:

May contain less than 70% organic ingredients, not counting added water and salt.

 

May contain over 30% of:

  1. nonorganically produced agricultural ingredients; and/or
  2. other substances, without being limited to those in 7 CFR 205.605
Your label MUST:

Show an ingredient statement when the word organic is used.

 

Identify organic ingredients as "organic" in the ingredients statement1 when % organic is displayed.  Water and salt included as ingredients must not be identified as organic.  (IS)

Your label MAY show: The organic status of ingredients in the ingredients statement.1 Water and salt included as ingredients must not be identified as organic. (IS)

"X% organic ingredients" when organically produced ingredients are identified in the ingredient statement.  (IP)

Your label MUST NOT show: Any other reference to organic contents.

The USDA Organic seal.

The certifying agent seal.

1 To identify an ingredient as organically produced, in the ingredients statement, use the word, "organic" in conjunction with the name of the ingredient, or an asterisk or other reference mark which is defined below the ingredient statement.

References:

Most references are included above within the passages, a few are added here separately:

Fall allergy  air filter

Summer allergies  air filter