What’s just happened with organics?

Recently stories on the Keep the Soil in Organic movement have been happening not only locally but nationally.

Don’t worry if you haven’t seen any of the stories, you can do a quick catch up, just check out the links below:




On Wednesday, November 1, the National Organic Standards Board voted 8-7 against a ban on labeling hydroponically grown produce as USDA Certified Organic.

So What Does this Really Mean?

You probably won’t see a change on the produce shelves. Depending on the season, you can find hydroponically grown organic fruits and vegetables like strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers on the shelves. We always label “hydroponically grown” produce whether it’s organic or not.

What’s Different About Hydroponics?

Hydroponic growers purport this growing method as the way of the future, and one of the ways that the world will feed an ever-growing population. Produce is grown in circulating, nutrient solutions, and provide higher yields and better water efficiency compared to soil-grown operations.

But, there is some debate over whether the nutrients in hydroponically grown produce are the same as in soil-grown produce. Nutrition Specialist Hannah Brilling gave me this perspective,

“We’re only just beginning to understand all the ways in which our gut microbiome may impact our health. One of the ways in which our bodies are exposed to a range of microbes is through the dirt in which our food is grown. Labeling is important for transparency. Whether or not hydroponics is allowed to use the USDA Certified Organic seal, consumers cannot ‘vote with their forks’ if they don’t realize they’re eating a hydroponically grown tomato.”

Prefer Soil-Grown Organics?

The best advice is to shop locally and in season, if you’re looking for soil grown organics, buy your produce from local farms like Picadilly and Harlow Farm, who supply the co-op practically year round. For those short-season fruits like strawberries and raspberries, well, you might have to wait until next June, but you can guarantee it will be worth the wait!

What Does the Co-op Think?

We’re here to provide our member-ownerss and shoppers with food choices they want. I feel this quote from the Hanover Co-op General Manger, Ed Fox, explains it best, “We can’t make our food system perfect, but we can educate people about it and respect everyone’s right to choose as they see fit.”

We’d love to know your thoughts on this issue. Email us at gm@monadnockfood.coop.

This article was originally published by Emily Rogers, Co-op Food Store, Hanover, NH, Member Education Manager and adapted by Emerald Levick, Monadnock Food Co-op, Keene, NH. Thanks, Emily!