Labeling and certification move beyond organic in U.S.

With the U.S. organics industry going mainstream, a coterie of anti-The-Man farmers are getting out, eschewing federally regulated “organic” certification and creating terms and systems of their own to address eco-friendly agricultural practices not covered by the federal regs. The Food Alliance has created a certification process that focuses on fair treatment of farm workers and preservation of wildlife habitat, while Demeter USA certifies farms as “biodynamic,” meaning they function as intact ecosystems. Other labels like “local,” “sustainable,” and “beyond organic” are also spreading, though they aren’t overseen by particular groups. California farmers Kristie and Rick Knoll have taken the naming game to a whole new level, inventing their own word for their unique farming practices: “tairwa,” which translates loosely to “the essence of the land.” Says Rick of their distaste for the “O” word: “We’re trying to invent it all over again.”