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The movement to keep the soil in organic has generated a lot of response from the press. We try to keep up with relevant articles here. If you read an article that we missed, please send the link to us at

November 17, 2016

Slinging Mud Over The Organic Label

National Geographic

Two dozen tractors rolled into East Thetford, Vermont, last month, carrying angry farmers, riled up about “freeloaders,” corporate influence, and what they see as an insidious threat to their livelihoods.

That’s because for decades, farmers have grown fruits and vegetables organically, relying on methods that replenish the soil. Thousands of them have gone through the rigorous process of earning the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic seal—a process they believe involves growing produce in healthy, biologically active dirt. To them, soil is a living thing requiring special care—an almost spiritual matter.

But in recent years, they say, the value of that process has eroded as produce grown through "soilless" farming, including hydroponics, has earned the organic label.

November 16, 2016

Some Growers Say Organic Label Will Be Watered Down If It Extends To Hydroponics

National Public Radio

The National Organic Standards Board plans to decide this week whether hydroponically grown foods, a water-based model of cultivation, can be sold under the label "certified organic."

But some organic farmers and advocates are saying no — the organic label should be rooted in soil. The decision at stake for the $40 billion-a-year industry will have impacts that reach from small farms to global corporations.

Farmer Eliot Coleman is among those who oppose giving hydroponic produce the organic label. He recently joined other farmers at a rally in Thetford, Vt. They were holding signs saying "soil is the soul of organic."

What’s Organic? A Debate Over Dirt May Boil Down to Turf

November 15, 2016

New York Times

If a fruit or vegetable isn’t grown in dirt, can it be organic?

That is the question roiling the world of organic farming, and the answer could redefine what it means to farm organically.

At issue is whether produce that relies solely on irrigation to deliver nutrients to plants — through what is known as hydroponic and aquaponic systems — can be certified organic. And the National Organic Standards Board, an advisory group that makes recommendations to the federal secretary of agriculture, will get an earful on the topic at its meeting in St. Louis this week.





November 13, 2016

Organic farmers fight USDA to defend their turf

Boston Globe

Dave Chapman is not afraid of getting a little dirty. For the past 36 years, he’s dug his hands into the soil to plant, then pick, organic tomatoes from his fields and greenhouses in rural Vermont. His love of organics is rooted in a simple motto: “Feed the soil, not the plant.”

So when he heard that hydroponic growers were starting to obtain USDA

certification that declared their crops organic, Chapman was incensed. What is organic, he wondered, without the marvel of microbes inherent in dirt?













Members of the MOTHER EARTH NEWS tribe have a long, illustrious, and storied reputation as stewards of the Earth. I grew up with the magazine during the Vietnam War, the hippie movement, and the Watergate scandal. Through it all, our tribe remained politically bipartisan and religiously diverse. One thing we have always fervently agreed on is stewardship of this planet. We feel a sense of deep responsibility toward breathable air, healthy soil, and potable, plentiful water. We feel personally assaulted when public and private interests desecrate, pillage, and attack these precious resources upon which we all depend.



Mother Earth News
Grass-fed Beef, Free-Range Chicken, and USDA Organic: Language and the Sustainable Revolution

October/November 2016​

MOSA article on the 2016 NOSB meeting in St. Louis
Harvest Public Media
Can hydroponics be certified organic? Industry battle rages on

November 20, 2016

Can food be organic even if it’s not grown in soil?

Many hydroponic growers in the U.S. want access to the $40 billion organic market, but a board that advises the U.S. Agriculture Department on organic industry policy signaled Friday it would recommend excluding produce not in grown in soil from the federal organic program.










Note: I am including this article because it so clearly demonstrates the hostile takeover of the USDA organic standards.


As the National Organic Standards Board debates whether hydroponic operations can continue to be certified as organic, the board has a bigger problem.


It no longer fairly represents the status and reality of organic food.

The Packer
Organic board should grow up

November 28, 2016

November 19, 2016

Hydroponic, aquaponic farmers fighting for organic certification


If a fruit or vegetable isn’t grown in dirt, can it be organic?

That is the question roiling the world of organic farming, and the answer could redefine what it means to farm organically.

At issue is whether produce that relies solely on irrigation to deliver nutrients to plants — through what is known as hydroponic and aquaponic systems — can be certified organic. The National Organic Standards Board, an advisory group that makes recommendations to the secretary of agriculture, discussed it at its meeting in St. Louis last week.

Star Tribune
Good nutrition begins in the soil

September 1, 2016

Sustainable Food Trust

When Patrick Holden, Chief Executive of the Sustainable Food Trust, spoke at the recent conference, Food: The Forgotten Medicine, he wanted to highlight the importance of how we farm and its impact on human health. The emphasis he placed on this connection between healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people is a strong message.


July 14, 2014

Organic Foods Are Tastier and Healthier, Study Finds



Can I interest you in consuming a more nutritious and tastier diet without changing the kinds of food you eat? Back in 2012 a study famously declared organic foods to be no more nutritious than their non-organic counterparts, but get ready for conventional wisdom about conventional crops to be turned on its head.

"The Plate" in National Geographic

Modern Farmer
The Bad News About The Organic Industry​

October 5, 2015

By all appearances, Kathy Evans would seem the ideal organic farmer. The fourth-generation proprietor of Evans Knob Farm, in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, she has never used chemical pesticides or growth hormones. Her poultry—45 laying hens, 250 broiler chickens, 50 turkeys, and 22 ducks—is free-range; her Romney and Hampshire sheep, grass-fed. Evans also shears, cards, spins, and dyes fiber produced by those sheep, as well as that from her alpaca and llama. (She reserves a few cows and one goat “just for the family.”) The resulting mountain of manure enriches vegetable plots where the 53-year-old grows everything from potatoes and peppers to squash and salad greens. Yet not a single cage-free egg or Toma Verde tomatillo that emerges from Evans’s 130 acres sports a USDA Organic label.

November 20, 2015

Hydroponics - What's the Big Deal?

Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance

For most of us hydroponic production is not organic production, similar to the fact that confinement dairy operation where cows don’t graze grass is not organic either.

November 18, 2015

Organic faithful press USDA to boot certification of hydroponics


Pressure by organic farmers and a host of other organic advocates is building for USDA to disallow certification of hydroponic produce as organic.

November 16, 2015

Farmers: soilless growing not organic

The Ellsworth American

With autumn leaf color fading and nary a dusting of snow yet on the slopes, the ski town of Stowe, Vt., was quiet. But at the nearby Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa, farm tractors were rolling in for a protest rally, with a huge banner that read “Keep the Soil in Organic.”At issue was the U.S. Agriculture Department’s willingness to grant organic certification to hydroponics — a process by which plants are grown in a liquid nutrient solution rather than in soil. In recent years, the department has allowed some hydroponic crops to be labeled organic, much to the chagrin of organic farmers.

November 12, 2015

Farmers want strict 'organic' rule

The Stowe Reporter

Food grown hydroponically — without soil, in a controlled nutrient-rich solution: Is that organic?

Depends on whom you ask, and there are strong opinions on both sides. Those opinions boiled over into a protest in Stowe late last month, as organic farmers and their allies urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture not to allow hydroponic foods to be defined as organic.

November 05, 2015

Will hydroponics water down the meaning of organic?

The Washington Post

With autumn leaf color fading and nary a dusting of snow yet on the slopes, the ski town of Stowe, Vt., was quiet. But at the nearby Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa, farm tractors were rolling in for a protest rally, with a huge banner that read “Keep the Soil in Organic.”

October 30, 2015

Dirt lovers question organic certification for non-soil operations

The Packer

Some organic growers are dishing dirt on others who have abandoned soil in favor of hydroponics and aquaponics.

October 29, 2015

Keep soil in organic: Farmers protest hydroponic certification

The Stowe Reporter

It's a regular occurrence to share the road with a farm vehicle in Vermont, but on Monday a whole parade of tractors and their accompanying farmers took to the pavement on Cape Cod Road - complete with a podium made of compost - for an organic cause.


October 27, 2015

Organic farmers demonstrate in Stowe

The Chronicle

The farmers wanted there to be no doubt about what they favored, so they dumped a pile of beautiful soil in the parking lot of the Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa Monday afternoon. The mound of dirt served as both the metaphoric and literal platform for speakers at a demonstration here Monday. The group wants federal regulators to find that hydroponically grown produce does not qualify for the organic label.

October 26, 2015

Some farmers upset that hydroponic crops carry organic label

Associated Press

Some organic crop farmers don't want crops raised sans soil in hydroponic greenhouses to carry the 'organic' label, and to make their point, they dumped a pile of compost in a parking lot Monday where a federal advisory board dedicated to the organic community was meeting.


September 14, 2015

Is the 'USDA Certified Organic' label on a descent to irrelevance

by Eliot Coleman for

Long time supporters of organic farming need to realize that the ground is shifting under their feet. Rapidly. Ever since the USDA (and by association the industrial food lobbyists) was given control of the word, the integrity of the “USDA Certified Organic” label has been on a predictable descent to irrelevance. The organic community initially insisted on integrity and thought they had achieved it. Unfortunately, they permitted the foxes to manage the hen house. 

June 02, 2015

The Hydroponic Invasion of USDA Organic

The Healthy Home Economist

The reason why organic produce isn't as good as it used to be is the rapid and widespread proliferation of hydroponic produce labeled USDA Organic...

April 24, 2015

Are these beautiful lettuce and tomatoes really organic? The debate over an agricultural revolution

The Washington Post

Exactly what kind of food should get the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 'organic' label has been the subject of repeated controversies, and some of the fiercest divisions have opened recently over the eerily beautiful, scar-free produce that is grown in controlled water-based environments - that is, with the roots of the plants resting in covered water tanks rather than soil.

April 13, 2015

Why You Can't Have Organic Food Without Soil

Civil Eats

Hydroponic farming is missing one very important ingredient, and a whole way of thinking that goes along with it...

February 19, 2014

Hydroponic's organic label is all wet

The Washington Post

Hydroponic gardening could not be more different from organic gardening if it tried. Maybe you’ve seen a hydroponic greenhouse operation, or a home gardener’s kit, in which plant roots are bathed in a solution of chemical fertilizers but never come into contact with any soil. It is a clever and useful system that can be used in places where the soil is contaminated, or one where a living soil does not exist, such as Mars...

February 16, 2014

How 'organic' are vegetables when they're growin in hydroponic greenhouses?

Burlington Free Press

How "organic" are vegetables when they're grown in hydroponic greenhouses? Completely, according to USDA guidelines. Many soil-tilling Vermonters disagree...

February 16, 2014

Vermont delegation roots for soil

Burlington Free Press

Soil-based agriculture alone merits the "organic" label, say Welch, Sanders and Leahy...

February 14, 2014

An interview with Miles McEvoy, deputy administrator of the USDA's National Organic Program

Burlington Free Press

America will continue to allow hydroponic farms to be certified "organic" as long as they follow established guidelines, says Miles McAvoy, who overseas the National Organic Program (NOP) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture...

April 09, 2010

Should You Be Eating Hydroponic Vegetables?

Rodale's Organic Life

Fresh local lettuce in November? Locally grown tomatoes in December? It’s possible with hydroponic farming, but not everyone thinks that's a good thing.

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