What's the difference between Organic, Certified Natural and Locally Grown?by Lisa Fowler on 09/16/13
Organic vs Certified Naturally Grown vs Local
Todays local farmers markets offer locally grown produce mostly during the months May through October. Market vendors vary their growing practices from organic to conventional methods. As a consumer the easiest way to educate yourself with the farmers market offerings is to arrive early and ask questions of the growers on their growing practices, what’s in season and recipes or cooking suggestions for enjoying your purchases.
So what is considered organic? According to the United States Department of Agriculture's Consumer Bulletin on the National Organic Program, "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 fruits and vegetables are 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.”
Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) is an alternative certification program to the USDA National Organic Program. CNG offers farmers a way to minimize paperwork and certification fees by employing a peer-inspection process to certify their farms. CNG bases its standards on the National Organic Program but does not confer permission for its members to use the term "organic,” as this is a term reserved for farms that have completed the USDA program. It is worth mentioning that USDA does offer financial assistance programs to help with the cost of certification.
Locally grown is a common term used for most foods that come within a day’s drive from the market. What this means to you as the consumer is that you can purchase peaches, watermelons and onions from South Georgia along side tomatoes, cucumbers and blueberries from Cobb, Cherokee or Bartow counties.