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Organic FAQs for Consumers

Where can I find locally produced organic foods?

The easiest way to find organic produce in Tennessee is through a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operation or a farmers market. You can find local farmers markets and CSAs on the Pick Tennessee Products web site. You can also contact the producers directly to see what they offer, and where you can buy their products. Tennessee organic products can also be found in various health food stores, groceries, and specialty stores across the state.

How do I know if produce is organic?

Organic producers go through an intensive process to become USDA certified organic. Certified organic producers will usually have a copy of their certification on hand or will display the USDA organic logo. "Certified Organic" means crops have been grown from soil that was not treated with pesticides, growth regulators, synthetic chemicals, or artificial fertilizers in the 36 months prior to certification. Certification includes yearly inspections of farm fields and processing facilities, and detailed record keeping to ensure that growers, processors, and handlers are meeting the National Organic Program Standards.

Is local organic food as expensive as the organic produce in the grocery store?

Organic products sold directly by farmers locally can be cheaper. This is due to the fact that there is not a middleman in the supply chain. The producer is the retailer, so there is not a markup like in grocery stores.  The produce is also not shipped over long distances, cutting out transportation costs that are incorporated into the price you pay at supermarkets.

Is organic food better for you?

There is no conclusive evidence at this time to suggest that organically produced foods are more nutritious. However, well-balanced soils grow strong healthy plants which, many believe taste better and contain more nutrients. Many restaurants' chefs around the state, as well as around the country are using organic produce because they think it tastes better. Organic growers often select varieties to grow for their flavor, not only their appearance.

How much does USDA organic certification cost?

Annual certification fees vary for producers and handlers. Sometimes less than $500, sometimes up to $1,500. Fees are listed on certifier's web sites. The fee for certification is not required at the time of application. Applicants will be billed upon completion and approval of application and inspections.

Is there a farm size for organic certification?

No. Any organic farm can become certified.

For more information contact:

Tennessee Department of Agriculture
P.O. Box 40627
Nashville, TN 37204