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History of Organic Farming

By: Steve Frailey Monday November 30, 2020 comments Tags: organic farming, noni organic farming, sustainable farming

While food is by no means the sole source of exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, food is definitely something that passes continuously through the cells of the body day after day. This is why quality is so important over quantity when it comes to your food.

What is organic farming?

The word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Crops depend on soil and water for nourishment. The cleaner soil and water equals cleaner more nutritious food. It's that simple.

Did you know? When the USDA certifies a food as organic, they guarantee that the food was produced through USDA organic approved methods designed to improve food quality and improve environmental conditions. This means no chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. 

History of organic farming

Consumers looking for non-chemically treated, fresh, or minimally processed food mostly had to purchase directly from growers. From that time, the organic food industry had grown from experimental garden plots to large farms sold under a special organic label.

Organic gardening reached a modest level of popularity gaining recognition in the United States. This sudden growth created a need for organic verification method guaranteeing that organic products are indeed produced according to certain standards. The organic certification industry was born! Food manufacturers began developing processes for organic foods and many retail marketing chains specialized in the sale of organic food and products.

By this time, environmentalists and the counterculture dominated the term organic food, but it was only until the 1970’s that organic food became a household name. More than 40 private organizations and state agencies currently certified organic food. However, their standards for growing and labeling organic food differed from each other. 

Congress drafted the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) defining the term "organic" and attempted to develop standards for organic food production and certification. As the demand for organic foods continued to increase, high volume sales through supermarkets and other retail giants replaced direct farmer to consumer sales. Many corporate farms now have organic divisions. However, for health conscious consumers, organic food production is not easily observable at the grocery store.

In 1990, U.S. Congress passed the Farm Bill instructing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create a national legal definition of the term "organic" that would provide uniform regulations. This bill also allowed the USDA to create and enforce standards for any food bearing the term "organic." This provided high-quality standards to organic food producers/farmers and to consumers, food labeling recognition that they could trust.

As part of the ongoing process for the development of organic food producing standards, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meet on a quarterly basis to review petitions and consider proposed changes in organic regulations.

What are the basic standards for organic farmers?

Farmers wanting to produce certified organic crops must show the USDA that their land has been free of prohibited substances for a period of 3 years. 

Did you know? To prevent "drift" from synthetic pesticides or fertilizers used on non-organic adjacent cropland, certified organic farmers are also required to have “buffer zones” around all certified organic crops.

Organic farming practices are designed to meet the following goals:

  • Enhance soil and water quality
  • Reduce pollution
  • Promote a self-sustaining cycle of resources on a farm

Materials or practices not permitted in organic farming include:

  • Synthetic fertilizers
  • Sewage sludge as fertilizer
  • Synthetic pesticides
  • Irradiation
  • Genetic engineering

Organic crop farming materials or practices may include:

  • Plant waste left on fields (aka green manure)
  • Livestock manure
  • Compost
  • Plant rotation 
  • Cover crops
  • Mulch
  • Predatory insects or insect traps to control pests
  • Vermiculture (earthworms)
  • Compost teas

Foods currently covered under current organic standards:

  • Fruits and Vegetables, including Mushrooms
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Dairy Products and Eggs
  • Livestock Feed
  • Meat and Poultry

Did you know? Seafood is not currently covered within certified organic regulations. However, the National Organics Standards Board has officially adopted recommendations for seafood (including finfish and mollusks).

Know your labels!

  • Products labeled "100 percent organic" must solely contain organically produced ingredients. The USDA Organic seal can be used on the package.
  • Products labeled "organic" must consist of at least 95% organically produced ingredients. The USDA Organic seal can be used on the package.
  • Processed products containing at least 70 percent organic ingredients can use the phrase "made with organic ingredients" and list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on the label. The USDA Organic seal cannot be used anywhere on the package.


At Hawaiian Organic Noni, our 70 acre certified organic family noni farm we offer a free 2 ½ hour “Organic Noni Farm & Wellness Tour” on Mon, Wed and Fri by reservation. As a working organic farm, we enjoy sharing our organic practices that we have learned over 40 years of personal experiences that work without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. In reality, we are only mimicking what nature has done for millions of years in the forest. 

Learn more on why organic food is so beneficial for you here.



Steve Frailey

About the Author: Steve Frailey

My wife and I (Steve Frailey) moved to Kauai, Hawaii in 1982 from our organic farm in California. There were no roads, electricity, water or buildings but lots of Noni trees (Morinda Citrifolia) in our valley. We also developed a deep relationship with Noni that was growing all through our valley.  Today we run our Hawaiian Organic Noni farm, and share the gift of health with people throughout the world.