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Certified organically grown

Earth Song employee Josh Colburn stocks the shelves Friday with organic produce specials.
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Organic-food labeling has gone nationwide.

Starting this week, any organic agricultural product has to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture standards before it can be labeled “organic.”

This development – years in the making – is getting mixed reviews in western Nevada County, which has more than its share of organic food retailers and customers.



Many people like the idea of a standardized, USDA stamp of approval for organic food.

But some point out that California’s organic-food labeling program already had some of the strictest standards in the nation.




And one longtime organic farmer complained the new regulations will just mean more paperwork and expense.

“They’re basically trying to fix something that wasn’t broken,” said “Amigo Bob” Cantisano, who raises vegetables on San Juan Ridge and grows olives on orchards in the Marysville, Wheatland and Newcastle areas.

Cantisano, who’s been an organic farmer since 1972, said California’s rules for organic farming were 30 pages long. The new federal regulations are 540 pages long. They won’t improve the way he farms; they’ll just increase paperwork and record-keeping, he said.

“They’re redundant. They just make it more time-consuming and costly.”

Paul Harton, manager of BriarPatch Cooperative Market, said, “It’s a good thing … that there’s a national standard,” especially in states that don’t have organic-labeling standards that are as good as California’s.

But Harton fears it will easier for big operations to pay the costs of meeting the new, federal standards.

“My personal opinion is … it’s very big-business oriented,” he said.

Chris Kysar, general manager of the all-organic Earth Song Market and Cafe, said, “I think it’s good to have it standardized.”

Previously, “another state could say, ‘We’ll call this organic,’ and it really wasn’t,” Kysar said.

The new federal organic-food labeling sounded good to Imogene Graham, a Grass Valley woman shopping Friday afternoon at Natural Valley Health Foods in the Brunswick Basin.

“I think that’s a wonderful idea. It does make a difference to me,” she said.


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