What does LOCAL mean?
While difficult to quantify, establishing goals for what we want to achieve in food purchases (supporting sustainable farming, diversity of produce variety, reduced carbon emissions over-all) is a much better way to achieve our goal than selections based on arbitrary distances. But if definitions are important to you….Here at Farm to Fork we consider “local” within a 250 mile radius. During the off-season/winter we will pull from farther family farms but will remain at least 50% regional or local.
And then there’s CERTIFIED NATURALLY GROWN?
“To be granted the CNG certification, farmers don’t use any synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, or genetically modified organisms. Certified Naturally Grown provides a much-needed complement to the National Organic program. While the NOP is an important program that primarily serves medium and large-scale agricultural operations, CNG is tailored for direct-market farms selling in their local communities. These farms often find the NOP’s heavier paperwork requirements are not a good fit for their small-scale operations. CNG enables these farms to get credit for their practices while showing some accountability to their customers. Some CNG farmers become certified organic after a few years with CNG, and we think that’s just super. It’s the grassroots alternative to certified organic.” To sum it up…organic certification is expensive and time consuming. This is a more feasible route for smaller farms.
Oh, to be ORGANIC….
The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Specific requirements must be met and maintained in order for products to be labeled as “certified organic”. Organic crops must be grown in safe soil, have no modifications, and must remain separate from conventional products. Farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.
In regards to Organic Certification, many small farms use sustainable growing practices that are above and beyond what the USDA has set for growers to use the organic label. There is a lot of discontent within the sustainable farming community with organic labeling. It’s very expensive and requires a good chunk of time. The organic requirements have also been relaxed quite a bit in recent years due to heavy lobbying by large conventional growers.
What does HOMEGROWN mean to us?
Farm to Fork is working with local family operated farms with VERY specific guidelines. These farms have to be small, less than three acres and do VERY minimal spray. They will be very clearly marked “homegrown” on the menu so anyone still wanting to stick with only certified still can. There are just so many small farms that grow really great food (like most of the ones at the farmer’s markets) but they can’t afford to be certified organic or just haven’t obtained their certified natural certification. After speaking with some of them they have really clean, awesome food– spraying only if they actually need to verses traditional conventional food growers which spray as protocol. Most of these small farms avoid spraying unless absolutely necessary- at least the ones we will be working with. Pesticides are expensive! Most small farmers are working to keep costs down which results in much more consciously farmed, cleaner food!
Farm to Fork recognizes that it is best to get to know your local farmers. We’ve just done the leg work for you! We have taken the time to ask them lots of questions about their farming practices and find farmers that you can trust. We've done this and found that we really learned a lot (and made some good friends) and have been pleasantly surprised by how clean their food really is. It's nice to know the people that are growing the food that you and your family eat! That’s why we carry a few items that we have labeled HOMEGROWN…..