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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the difference between organic and regular strawberries?

GENERAL INFORMATION:

One of the main advantages that consumers have when they want to buy an organic product is that there are set guidelines (by the USDA National Organic Program) that have to be followed by the producers in order to be able to sell as organic. This means that there are only certain products that have been tested and approved to be used in organic production.

In the United States, the National Organic Program (NOP) is the federal regulatory framework governing organic food. It is also the name of the organization in the Department of Agriculture (USDA) responsible for administering and enforcing the regulatory framework. The Organic Food Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C.A. ยง 6501-22) required that the USDA develop national standards for organic products. The NOP Final Rule was first published in the Federal Register in 2000 and are in the US Code of Federal Regulations at 7 CFR Part 205.

The USDA has a list of Accredited Certifying Agents that can issue certificates of operation to operations that comply with the USDA organic regulations. These Certifying Agents are the ones that are responsible for inspecting that all the guidelines are being followed.

There are currently 56 U.S. domestic certification agencies accredited by the USDA, including Organic Crop Improvement Association, CCOF, Oregon Tilth, Quality Assurance International (QAI), and Indiana Certified Organic. There are also 41 accredited foreign agencies that offer organic certification services

On the other hand the EPA regulates the use of pesticides by first reviewing studies on the pesticides to determine that they will not pose unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. Before these pesticides can be used on a food commodity, the same EPA in conjunction with other agencies will set limits on the amount of it that can be used when growing or processing the food commodity. There are other limits on how much of these pesticides can remain on the food once it reaches the general public. Government inspectors monitor regularly to ensure that the set limits are not being exceeded.

Any pesticide that remains in or on food or feed is called a residue. Residues that remain in food or feed at harvest or slaughter are monitored to avoid hazards to the humans and domestic animals that will eat them. The Food Quality Protection Act, passed in 1996, establishes a strong, health-based safety standard for pesticide residues in all foods. The food safety standard for pesticide residues in food is a "reasonable certainty of no harm" standard for aggregate exposure using dietary residues and all other reliable exposure information.

Tolerances: EPA establishes maximum residue levels (tolerances) when registering a pesticide. A tolerance is the maximum amount of pesticide residue that may legally remain on or in treated crops and animals (and animal products such as milk or eggs) that are to be sold for food or feed. Tolerances are enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services/Food and Drug Administration for most foods, and by the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Food Safety and Inspection Service for meat, poultry, and some egg products. Surveys of pesticide residues in food typically reveal that the vast majority of samples are below tolerance.

 

 OUR FARM:

We want to provide the best possible products (both organic and conventional) to our customers, so we attempt to apply the methodology for growing organic to our conventional "Regular" strawberries. However, there are some differences, and they are only a result of us attempting to stay competitive and keep costs down, thus being able to stay in business to provide the best possible products for our customers.

So what are those differences?

On our organic fields we fallow the land (we let it rest) and thus it naturally replenishes some of the nutrients that were lost during production. On our conventional fields we do not fallow the land so in order to grow good quality berries we need to add synthetic fertilizer to provide sufficient nutrient to the plant. On the organic fields we sometimes do need to add "Organic Approved" fertilizers in order to get the best possible berries.

On the Certified Organic strawberries we only use "organic approved" products. For the non-organic (regular/conventional) ones we do have the option to use some type of pesticides approved by the EPA, but we choose to avoid that practice at all costs. We have plenty of experience growing organic strawberries and because of that we have acquired plenty of knowledge on alternative methods of pest eradication; thus we are able to use that knowledge and apply it to our "Regular" berries.

We are a certified operation trough CCOF for the USDA NOP, and you can verify this by going to the AMS USDA NOP website and you can input our name "Rodriguez Farms Inc." under "Operations" and press the 'enter' key, there you can see our company and the products that we grow organically.

 
 
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