The Backyard

The Backyard

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Food Alliance - Who They Are and Why They Are Important

Little known (at least they were to me), is a group called the Food Alliance, a non-profit group based in Portland Oregon who's mission is to:

"certify farms, ranches and food handlers for sustainable agricultural and business practices."

And why is that important? Because while organic certification certainly has its benefits, it's lacking in areas like preserving the environment and protecting wildlife habitat. The big guys get their organic certification, yet ship their organic products thousands and thousands of miles around the world. I'm not so sure that's a good thing. They also play some games in treatment of animals which is a REAL problem for me - they can still have a feed lot for an organic farm, or house thousands and thousands of chickens in too-tight quarters. Step in Food Alliance. They are a sustainable agriculture certifier, and looking at the certification standards, isn't all too bad - especially when it comes to the part of reducing energy, conserving water consumption and resources, and humane treatment of animals. I've read where many small farms practice organic methods (sustainable methods), yet will not seek organic certification because of red tape and how some feel the organic standards are not what they could be. Once again, step in Food Alliance. I truly believe they are the label to look for in the future, and smaller farmers will go this route, rather than the USDA organic certification route, and this certification will be just as good, if not better. In Pennsylvania, The PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture recently announced a partnership with the Food Alliance, to promote and educate farmers on Sustainable agriculture certification. That's quite a step forward for PA and Eastern Farmers. And what does this all mean to you, the consumer? You are what you eat! Start looking for the Food Alliance Seal of Approval and think of it as important as the organic label. From the Food Alliance Website:

Food Alliance Certification
Why Food Alliance is the most comprehensive certification program for sustainable food in North America. Food Alliance certified businesses are audited by an independent third-party inspector to determine whether they meet program standards and criteria.

Farm and ranch standards:
Provide safe and fair working conditions
Ensure the health and humane treatment of animals
No use of hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics
No genetically modified crops or livestock
Reduce pesticide use and toxicity
Protect soil and water quality
Protect and enhance wildlife habitat
Continuously improve management practices
Learn more about farm and ranch certification -->
Food handler standards:
Use Food Alliance Certified ingredients
Provide safe and fair working conditions
Conserve energy and water
Reduce use of toxic and hazardous materials
Reduce and recycle waste
Ensure quality control and food handling safety
No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
Continuously improve practices
Learn more about food handler certification -->

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