Editor's note: If someone asks you to define what makes a product "organic," what do you usually say? It's become a bit of a buzzword that we accept but don't often inspect - and West Coast Editor Christine Dionese wants to lend some understanding to the term. By connecting organic concepts and practices to local products and producers, it's our hope that you'll come away with a deeper understanding of the "organic" process - and next time you're at a dinner party, you might have an answer for that question.
Words and photos by Christine Dionese
Boomtown Table’s “Beyond Organic” series provides a microscopic, simplified look at how our small region’s agricultural practices impact the entire country — in a H U G E way.
Here are just a few of the topics we’ll bring you:
Learn how Upstate New York, despite its organic growing challenges, possesses a unique opportunity to fill the food gap plaguing drought-stricken California
Glimpse some of the region’s most innovative, sustainable idea leaders - people like John Bolton and Freshwise Farms hydroponics experts - as they explore regenerative growing methods
Explore with the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA-NY) as they simplify organic certification for new farmers and how it affects community awareness
Hear from local restaurateurs who’ve developed relationships with growers to bring sustainable, beyond organic, pesticide-free meals to your table
But first, a brief history
J.I. Rodale, considered the father of the modern organic movement, believed regenerative organic agriculture was more resourceful and sustainable for growing nutrient-dense crop and animal food sources for humans. He founded the Rodale Research Institute for organic farming, located in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, in the early 1940s.
The Organic Foods Production Act was established in 1990. It led to the establishment of the USDA’s organic certifying body, an agency that established a new set of rules requiring all states to follow before labeling sellable products as organic.
Out of fears that the United States Department of Agriculture organic certifiers may not reflect Rodale’s vision, and in the interest of supporting Rodale’s passion for environmental evolution, regional certifying bodies were established to further the interests of local organic farmers and consumers. One of these is the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), which is headquartered in Farmington, about 25 miles southeast of Rochester.
Today, misinformation and special interests continue to shape Upstate New York’s socio-cultural understanding and financial investments into organic foodstuffs. This bi-weekly series will strive to cover a range of topics, movers and shakers in the organic industry.
Have an idea for the series? Comment below. ↓