When you buy food that is certified organic, you are buying a product that was produced according to strict regulations.

To ensure that a farmer has actually followed the regulations, there is a whole system of certification, inspection, and controls behind organic food.

I won’t lie; organic certification involves a ton of paperwork.

Every organic farm has a certifying agency – a third-party organization that inspects the farm for compliance with organic regulations. The certifier provides the organic certification so that a farm can sell organic food.

I won’t lie; organic certification involves a ton of paperwork.

Keeping Organic Records

There are two main components to the paperwork: record keeping and ensuring traceability.

I have to keep three types of records. The first are records related to all inputs – such as seed and fertilizer – that we buy and use.

The second are all of our field operations – from all of the pre-planting work through to planting and harvest.

The third are sales – whom and where I sell my product to.

Ensuring a Paper Trail

italian organic agriturismo farm

Behind all of these records there has to be a paper trail. That paper trail is meant to ensure the integrity of an organic product from the field to the final consumer.

I have to keep invoices, transport documents, seed labels.

For seed that we produce, I need to keep a self-declaration on hand; for seed that I cannot find certified organic, I need to have a waiver.

For any activity that happens off the farm to our product – such as drying rice, processing rice, cleaning seed – we have to ensure that the activity is in a certified facility and have that facility’s paperwork on-hand.

In the height of planting season – when we are buying seed, prepping fields for planting, and planting – I can easily spend several hours a week on recordkeeping and traceability.

Part of the increased price for organic food that you see in the supermarket is related to the increased costs of recordkeeping and of ensuring product traceability from the field to your table.

— Ariane

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