Growing Practices in NC: What do They Mean?


At TPB, our conviction is to BUY LOCAL FIRST, above all else. We advocate for supporting our NC farm-partners, and every week, we choose to buy from our neighbors, rather than ship products from California or other countries, organic or not. We are transparent about our farmers' practices, and leave it up to our members to determine their value system as it relates to buying organic, pesticide free, local, etc. 


Here's a quick run-down of several farming methods and classifications you may see at farmers' markets, grocery stores and on our weekly menu as well. We identify these growing methods if they are applicable on the website ordering page: 

ORGANIC:  This certification prohibits the use of chemical fertilizers, various synthetic substances, irradiation, sewage sludge, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in organic production.  It also prohibits antibiotic and synthetic hormone use in organic meat and poultry, requires 100% organic feed for organic livestock. When the product is labeled “100% organic,” “organic,” or just “made with organic ingredients,” then even the non-organic ingredients cannot be produced from GMOs. Organic Produce CAN contain commercial pesticides and still be labeled organic. According to the USDA, nearly 20% of organic lettuce test positive for pesticides, particularly a pesticide made by Dow: spinosad — which comes from a soil bacterium — it can be used in organic farming, although the EPA considers the substance slightly toxic. 


PESTICIDE FREE:  A production system in which crops are grown without the use of chemical pest control methods. Crops are not exposed to pesticide applications from the time of emergence until the time of harvest. By using this method, growers may be able to reduce input costs without sacrificing yield, and so retain more of the income generated by the sale of their produce. However, fertilizers can be used as they would on conventionally grown crops. Unlike organic production, there are no restrictions on the grower in terms of commitment   to being pesticide-free. If, during the cropping year, the field is overwhelmed with a pest outbreak that requires treatment with a pesticide, then the grower is still able to market that product as he or she normally would. The producer could then attempt PFP (pesticide free produce) on that same field the next year. Pesticides are permitted in non-PFP years, and some non-residual pre-seed chemicals are also permitted in the year of PFP. Fertilizer use is also permitted.

CHEMICAL FREE:  Farming without the use of any natural or synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Period.

Once again, the best answer seems to be buying local produce from growers we trust.  Thoughts or comments? Reach out to me directly at courtney@theproducebox.com. Thanks!


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