November 25, 2020
Blog Post

Behind the Scenes: Organic

Every piece of food you consume from the grocery store or at a restaurant makes an impact on the environment. Supporting the organic certification is one of the easiest ways to make a positive impact.  

There are plenty of environmental and health reasons to purchase organic. In this blog, we’re going behind the scenes to learn the benefits and challenges farmers experience.  

Organic Farmer Spotlight: Strohauer Farms

Strohauer Farms has been growing potatoes and onions in Greeley, Colorado since 1910. In 2006, the Strohauer family made the transition in order to fight the challenges of growing mass conventional crops. In doing so, they introduced specialty products like fingerling potatoes and shallots with buyers who wanted certified organic.

Amber Stroahuer, 4th generation farmer, shared, “Organic farming shouldn’t sound like a new idea, but at the time it really was, and it was something [my dad] really wanted to pursue and experiment with.” Since then, they’ve increased the acreage of organic cropland every year and are amazed by the exponential progress of their soil health. 

Why Some Farmers May Not Be Certified

There are many reasons why organic cropland is not always an option for farmers. The first is time. In order for a farm to be certified, it must complete a transitional growing period adhering to USDA regulations for three years. During that time period, any produce, grain, or crop that is grown cannot be sold with the USDA certification. After three-years, the application and inspection process can take an additional six months. With no real market, farmers often are forced to sell their high-quality transitional product at a lower profit margin.  

This plays hand-in-hand with issues and difficulties surrounding land. Most people don’t realize that farmers rent most of their land. Because of this, even if the farmers could sustain through the three-year transition, a lot of landlords are not willing to take that loss.  

Lastly, the cost of switching to sustainable practices may be more than a single farm can allow for. Organic requires greater financing and designing a new business model. This means that most farmers don’t see a return on investment for several years. Purchasing transitional products is a great way to create more a demand and support farmers during this process. 

Food Waste in Organics

Amber explains how food waste is a relevant problem in organic farming by stating, “Back in 2006 when we first started growing organic, there was almost an expectation that organics were ‘ugly produce.’ Now it’s almost the complete opposite where they are being held to a very, very high standard where appearance has become very important.”  

By growing products in their natural state, farmers often end up with “out-of-spec” supply. Organic products often end up in funny shapes, are different sizes, or don’t have as vibrant of a color.  

FoodMaven believes in investing in sustainable practices through organic products. Through the FoodMaven Marketplace, foodservice buyers can purchase Ardent Mills Transitional All-Purpose Flour. This exclusive product supports regional farmers in their three-year transition to organic. Additionally, FoodMaven works with organic famers, like Strohauer to rescue “out-of-spec” products that retailers won’t buy. Then we connect them with chefs to create powerful dishes that tells a story.