Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The difference between law and reality

Today was another wonderful day of pimping Alfalfa Farm Winery at the Middletown Farmers Market. Sun, fresh food, good company - I've always said that's the best way to spend a day.

Today, I got a visit from a certain GM from a certain burrito joint which shall reman anonymous but rhymes with Chewpotle. Said GM was very friendly and maybe (?) was trying to keep the conversation going... Be that as it may:

I mentioned that I prefered Chewpotle over its competitor KewDoba because it was organic, but that said, competitor had more vegatarian options.

Wherein we began the discussion: to be labelled an "organic restaurant" means to use only certified organic ingredients. So, even if GMs know the local foods are, in fact, organic but not necessarily certified, they, by needs, must import certified organics. Ergo, to offer additional vegetarian options, they needed to have a local organic supplier who could meet demand.

And this is where my issue lies: Many moons and lives ago, I worked at a local CSA which was organic (I KILLED potato bugs for allsake) but not certified (way tooo expensive for a small community farm). The restaurant I was training at was "certified organic."

So in order to be legit, it had to have certified organic produce. Which meant, from a legal perspective, should buy from an orgainc farm in California - a continent away from Vermont - instead of buying from a local, hand-cared, non-certified organic farm.

So, said GM and I had an interesting discussion about pro's and con's of local vs organic. And the answers are still so unclear.

As for me, I prefer to keep buying from local farmers. Some use all organic methods. Some use only "mostly." But at least I know who runs the farms and I know they eat the fruits of their labor. So, they might not be certified, but they can be identified.

What does that mean for "corporate" organic? And does that not become a complete oxymoron?

These are REALLY import questions - which often spiral out of control. But with the world the way it is, I think it's time we at least start thinking about them... I don't have answers. But hopefully asking the questions will open the issue to insight.