Why We Choose Not to Be Certified
This letter is a response to the question, “You are organic, so why are you not certified?”
Thank you so much for your encouragement and interest. We appreciate it.
To answer your question, first of all, we carry a variety of certified products. About 99.5% of the produce we sell that is not grown on our farm is certified organic by one of several certifiers.
For our farm produce, our purpose from the outset in 1995 was to be organic, which purpose we immediately implemented, but we also chose to NOT certify our own products. The reasons for this were manifold.
After consulting with our customers, certified organic farmers and certification boards, we decided to not take on the extra expense and work to be certified. We perceived that we would be paying an overseeing entity that required less of us than we were already doing. What would be the point of that?
Furthermore, we chose to remain primarily local. We were not interested in extended markets, in which case, certification would make sense because there would be customers afar that would need some kind of proof of production methods and standards they could not easily verify for themselves. Being local, concerned customers like you should have the right and freedom to visit, examine and question us at any time. After all, it is your health and your money, isn’t it?
So we chose to be "customer certified", completely opening up our farm practices to our customers’ inspection and judgment, freely explaining to all exactly how and why we do what we do. For the sake of the customer’s informed perspective, we gladly reference our standards to organic certification standards where applicable.
I applaud your concern and diligence in examining sources of food to prove them as legitimately organic. There is a huge amount of fraud being perpetrated on the "natural foods" market, with many being outright deceptive about their status with only greed as their standard.
Indeed, you may have heard and it is no secret that even with certification associations, there has been corruption, with watering down of certification requirement standards to encourage giant operations to meet the considerable demand of large retailers now capitalizing on the organic market.
We have fought long and hard against such compromise and are discriminate about what certified organic products we choose to carry in our store, rejecting those we believe to be of questionable quality and integrity.
Being "organic" is not only about meeting a minimum standard and having a qualifying label, but rather doing all we can to completely avoid synthetic, chemical contamination, rejuvenate water sources, and replenish our soils with trace nutrients and microorganisms, thus ensuring a healthy, vibrant, productive environment for ourselves, our livestock and indeed, all of nature, which plays an important part at many and all levels. Some of these are factors we know are not even considered by most certification boards.
We choose these standards for our own health as well as that of our customers, doing what we do by conviction and not by merchandising incentive, the latter of which is sometimes, if not often, why producers certify.
If you have questions for us, we would be more than pleased to talk further. Thanks again for your interest and support.
Everyone at Harvest Haven