Buying organic in Cleveland

Labels on our food products can be tricky to decipher, especially considering how advertisers do not have the best reputation for telling the complete truth. Organic labels on products ranging from cereal boxes to banana bunches promise "naturally grown ingredients" or claim to be a member of some grassroots organic organization. All of these labels sound promising of organic origins, but there is in fact only one certified organic label - the United States Department of Agriculture certification label. The USDA and the Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) work toward helping consumers understand the origins of their products and produce - they do not work for the manufacturers and corporations behind the product.

The USDA National Organic Program and the Organic Foods Production Act are intended to assure consumers that the organic foods they purchase are produced, processed, and certified to be consistent with national organic standards. A product that simply mentions an organic certification does not actually mean it is organic. The label must mention a USDA certification as assurance of its organic nature. The USDA provides two labels concerning organics: an "organic" or "100 percent organic" certification and a "made with organic ingredients" certification.
The next time you browse the aisles of your market of choice, notice the "certified organic" labels on certain products. According to the USDA, the products labeled "organic" consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients, excluding water and salt. Additionally, all of the other product's ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances approved on the USDA's national list. As for the processed products labeled "made with organic ingredients," the product must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.

In addition to the USDA organic program, Ohio has it's own organic products certifier known as the OEFFA. The association was formed in 1979 and consists of farmers, consumers, gardeners, chefs, political activists, teachers, researchers, retailers and students. The OEFFA is a USDA National Organic Program-accredited certifier. Working toward promoting and supporting sustainable, ecological and healthful food systems, the association also helps local farms achieve organic certification. The OEFFA follows the same organic national standards as the USDA and works primarily in Ohio to help farmers achieve organic certification.

Being more conscious of the environment and our surroundings includes making informed choices in the marketplace. Being a smart consumer is just as important as being carbon-conscious and waste-conscious. Considering that organic products are often sold at a premium price, it is especially important to be informed before purchasing something like an 'all-natural, organically-produced avocado from Beatnicks Farms.'

Be on the look out for products and produce from these organic farms in Cuyahoga county:

Louis Rorimer & Family's Snake Hill Farm, L.P.
Snake Hill Farm is a diversified family farm producing vegetables, meat products, eggs and maple syrup. They sell organic vegetables at the North Union Farmers' Markets in Cleveland and Lakewood.
17900 South Park Boulevard, Shaker Heights, OH 44120. (216) 295-1105 or
LouisR9707@aol.com

Crooked River Coffee Company is Ohio's first specialty coffee roaster to receive USDA National Organic Program certification from Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association. They also produce organic and environmentally friendly products such as teas, syrups & unbleached filters.
761 Beta Drive, East Cleveland, OH 44143. (440) 442-8330
or greatcoffee@crookedrivercoffee.com

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