*BETTER THAN ORGANIC (BTO)
ORGANIC is a brand label seen today on many food products; a very large number of different products, from fresh fruits, nuts, to meats and even to many imported foods. In fact, just released “organic” fire wood, which I would assume, most is. In the evolution process the first “organic” products established high goals to grow food cleaner, healthier, mostly local, and to fit a unique marketing box that international food companies could not equal or even attempt duplicating. Well, things change……
Organic, according to webster is simply “grown with all natural fertilizers.” So much for simplicity once the USDA gets involved. The organic process went from “special detail to a pristine growing process” to the most complicated, nitpicking, hundreds of pages of confusing enforcement details even the most dedicated farmer would dread reading; much less totally understanding the terms invented by the government attorneys.
As one attempts to understand the current USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) regulations, without professional assistance, it is mind-boggling! At first a normal person was very comfortable with an “organic” label. It sounds healthy, safe and pristine, as if a lot of thought was planned for the consumer’s all-appreciative good. Yet, with closer observation, a mirage of government code language, totally foreign from any vernacular used by a professional farmer, bubbles to the top of this swampy field.
To start off, it takes 3 years (unless it’s the Rose Garden) to get NOP approval, more or less. It is not just a simple written list, but a negotiated series of ever tightening management intricacies. A plan must be “negotiated” for approval of the NOP using a USDA certified federal inspector who sticks to the fatiguing farm like ticks on a tired coon dog. The inspector, paid by the farmer, watches for enforcement violations, compost rates, uses of only organic seeds, materials, minerals, and certainly gets serious with commingling of prohibited substances. They have access to the farm at all times. “Hand weeding” is encouraged, no antibiotics, all organic bedding, temperature control, codex guidelines, strict record keeping, product tracing all the way to change of title, exact timed crop rotation and did I mention grievous record keeping, often several hours per day? Many regulations have little to do with the original organic objectives. For USDA’s (NOP) try to figure it out? http://www.ams.usda.gov/…
A National List of Approved treatments must be strictly obeyed. If not, at any point of progressive compliance, the inspector may file a compliant and it starts all over — back to year one. The hired inspector, like a horror movie villain, at any time, can revert into the policeman, jury and hangman.
Farm profit has dwindled downward for the last 50 years. The organic process originally provided a method for increased consumer confidence and more producer profit. Now with the swelling complicated NOP the cost of organic compliance is slightly more profitable than non-organic, yet a lot more risk, time and investment. In fact, failure to hold a tight line can cause enforcement penalties to seriously whack a slightly negligent farmer up-side the head.
Some years ago a pointed one liner hit the media, “You are what you eat.” This tossed gas on the early pre-USDA (2002) organic fire. The media loved it — sounded great! Beyond that phrase soon came a one-upper, “You are not only what you eat, you are what you eat eats.” Yet, someone, forgot the chemical and physical processes continuously working in living organisms called “metabolism!” These truly miraculous processes allow one to eat celery, yet not be celery — eat oysters and not grow a rock shell — eat ham and not grunt like a hog. By the miracle of digestive metabolism, the truth is, we are not what we eat. On the other hand strawberries may be grown in soil saturated with animal dung, yet by the miracle of plant metabolism, berries grown therein don’t taste at all like manure. Let’s be totally real, the only people who are chemically and truthfully “what they eat” could be narrowed down to only one species — cannibals!
There are two kinds of organic growers, totally compliant, and not totally compliant. The compliant growers have so much cost of production their product must sell at top of the market to make a profit. The organic branded non compliant grower can cut corners and earn a nicer profit. And, like the taste of a strawberry, the consumer can’t tell the difference.
From nostalgic visions of organic grandiose, jump forward to BTO –Better Than Organic. As a result of government complicated trampling, healthy food can be produced better than organic.
First, the simple things, absolutely no use of stimulating implants, growth hormones or steroid enhancers. No genetically modified grains, pasteurization or homogenized destruction to nutrition qualities. In this phase of quasi science, the old ways are the better ways.
A better quality grade, BTO has been developed. One of many providers is Longhorns Head to Tail Store. The BTO producer can do the valid organic processes without the federal government red tape and surveillance. If a BTO producer makes certain their soil is maintained professionally, using the best plant food tested for needed soil improvements, the grass is stronger and the resulting beef, milk or vegetables are higher in vitamin/mineral content.
The common sense BTO provides a three year head start on product. No inspector knows cattle genetics, seed, feed and soil like the farm family themselves that pay the bills. BTO is owner 24/7 management without fears of fines, fees or government molestation. There is something very “American” about producers staking their total consumer reputations on home grown farm products, rather than having a government inspector perusing the corral.
BTO grade can easily be superior to text book organic and provided to the consumer at a reduced price. BTO is a leaner grade of beef not overly grain fed, and not saturated with heavy fat. Normal BTO beef is a choice grade with above average marbling and minimum back fat. Beef with the highest conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 is always a naturally raised, grass fed critter.
BTO grade can be a higher nutrient content yet profitably sold for a much lower price than organic. That makes it much better — BETTER THAN ORGANIC!
It is still very true, there is no fertilizer for the soil like the owner’s foot prints.