Eliot Coleman contrasts Certified Old-Time Organic vs. USDA Certified Organic


“The USDA ”organic” standards have been co-opted by professional marketers. Passionate organic farmers no longer guide them. Many entities now “certified organic” are scamming the system, harming the environment, and defrauding the humans who consume their products.”

Also check out Mike Adams, natural news, who says that many foreign foods are NOT organic, despite their claims. Also this, from 2014:

Big Food corporations committing massive organic fraud — investigation

Search for “organic fraud.” Lots to ponder.

Okay, back to Eliot Coleman:


Gorgeous photo, face carved by Maine weather . . .

Our Green Acres Urban Farm director Rebecca says that Eliot Coleman was her bible while she was learning how to farm organically. Converting to permaculture, for her, was easy, since she was already instinctively incorporating a more systems approach to her organic farm.  

From several people on facebook, this post:

The following sign is posted at Eliot Coleman’s farmstand in Maine. Eliot has been an organic pioneer for fifty years. He first started learning about organic gardening from Helen and Scott Nearing. He has toured the world in search of the best farmers to learn from. He has served as the executive director of IFOAM, an advisor to the USDA on its groundbreaking 1980 report on organic farming, and has been the subject of countless media stories. His books and words continue to teach us all. For me personally, he has been a wonderful teacher of organic principles and creative thinking. We all owe him a debt of gratitude. For any fortunate enough to eat the food he grows, you know that he isn’t all talk. His crops are of the very highest quality. They are both delicious and life-giving. His farm would be a worthy model for any of us growing food. This is his declaration:


Four Season Farm is an organic farm and has been so since 1968. However, Four Season Farm is not “USDA Certified Organic” – for good reason. We believe that our old-time organic practices go far beyond the weak (and growing weaker) standards minimally enforced by the USDA National Organic Program. The USDA standards do not ensure a sustainable method of agricultural production nor do they ensure that the food grown in accordance with those standards provides for nutrient dense, healthy, and environmentally friendly foodstuffs.

The USDA ”organic” standards have been co-opted by professional marketers. Passionate organic farmers no longer guide them. Many entities now “certified organic” are scamming the system, harming the environment, and defrauding the humans who consume their products. Peter Whoriskey’s front page article in the May 1, 2017 Washington Post questions whether the USDA is worthy to serve as the protector of organic integrity.

We at Four Season Farm believe that our production practices reflect how organic farming should be done and we proudly call ourselves “certified old-time organic”. I repeat – we are not “USDA Certified.” To be so certified would be inconsistent with what we believe real organic farming is all about and would indicate acceptance of a far lower standard of food quality than that to which we aspire.


First, for uncompromised nutritional value all crops must be grown in fertile soil attached to the earth and nourished by the natural biological activities of that soil. There are so many vital aspects of soil processes that we could not replace even if we wanted to, because we are still unaware of how they all work.
Second, soil fertility should be maintained principally with farm-derived organic matter and mineral particles from ground rock. Why take the chance of bringing in polluted material from industrial sources when fertility can be created and maintained internally?
Third, green manures and cover crops must be included within broadly based crop rotations to enhance biological diversity. The greater the variety of plants and animals on the farm, the more stable the system.
Fourth, a “plant positive” rather than a “pest negative” philosophy is vital. We focus on correcting the cause of problems by strengthening the plant through optimum growing conditions to prevent pests, rather than merely treating symptoms by trying to kill the pests that prey on weak plants. Extensive scientific evidence is available today on the mechanisms by which a biologically active fertile soil creates induced resistance in the crops.
Fifth, livestock must be raised outdoors on grass-based pasture systems to the fullest extent possible. Farm animals are an integral factor in the symbiosis of soil fertility on the small mixed farm.

The goal of these five precepts is vigorous, healthy crops and livestock endowed with their inherent powers of vitality and resistance.

The astounding success of organic farming is a result of its guiding principle – the vital role of a biologically active fertile soil as the basis for producing the highest quality food. The management techniques that maintain natural soil fertility (crop rotation, compost, cover crops, grazing livestock, etc.) also create optimum conditions for nourishing the plants and animals that nourish human beings. The early organic farmers understood that pest-free plants and animals with active immune systems are a direct result of the soil building techniques stressed by the organic movement. Extensive scientific evidence is becoming more available every day on the mechanisms by which a biologically active fertile soil creates induced pest resistance in the crops. Investigations into the miraculous work of the soil-microbiome continue to confirm the intuitive brilliance of organic farming concepts. A new world of biologically based agricultural research is being born following the organic model.

Unfortunately, when the USDA took over the word “organic” some 20 years ago, real organic farmers lost control of the definition of organic farming. The USDA, mired in decades of chemical thinking and influenced by industrial lobbyists, has continually tried to subvert the promise of a natural, biologically based agriculture. The most recent attack is the inclusion of hydroponically grown produce under the certified organic label. If the USDA is allowed to prevail in this fraud, they will have successfully marginalized 100 years of progress towards truly sustainable food production. By certifying hydroponic as organic the USDA is basically saying, “See, just like we told you all along, soil is not important because we can do it all with soluble chemicals. Even organic farming agrees.”

We cannot allow the USDA to dismiss the biologically based understanding of soil fertility that generations of organic farmers have worked to establish. By stating emphatically that Four Season Farm is an “organic” farm, we are fighting to bring back the old-time organic standards. Those standards stress the link between natural soil fertility and optimum human nutrition and thus enhance both human and planetary health.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *