When hydroponic food grown without soil is allowed to carry the organic label, the environmental and health benefits that are the pillars of organic farming get lost. And legitimate soil-based farmers are unfairly undermined by this industrialized growing method. These hydroponic corporations are using the organic market to deliver cheap products at the expense of nutrients and taste.
In 2010 the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board voted to prohibit hydroponics in organics. Seven years later, the USDA has still not acted on this recommendation.
Hydroponic farming cannot be certified organic in the EU, Mexico, or Canada. But unfairly for our legitimate american organic farmers, all these countries are exporting hydroponic crops to the U.S.and get their organic labels from the USDA.
The majority of organically certified hydroponic companies primarily rely on hydrolyzed soybeans to fertilize their crop. The soybeans used to produce the liquid fertilizer are conventionally grown. So they could likely be GMO and drenched in pesticides.
To create this hydrolyzed soy fertilizer, the soybeans are boiled in acid then neutralized with a base such as sodium hydroxide. So, even if other fertilizers, even organic, are used, the hydroponic plants obtain the majority of their nutrients from this liquid fertilizer.
Even if we know the basic components a plant need to grow, we are not yet aware of all the minerals the plant use to create nutrients. For example, scientists discovered not long ago that silicon was enhancing plant vitality and therefore preventing osteoporosis when included in human diet. Soil contains billions of organisms. How many other micronutrients are in the soil of which we don’t know yet the benefits?
Hydroponic plants are usually grown with only the basic minerals and compounds known to men and required for their production.
The Organic Foods Production Act requires that certified producers properly manage soil health. So, with no soil, hydroponic products should be labeled as so, hydroponic not organic.
Hydroponic production may be a sustainable option but consumers need to know what they are buying and should decide for themselves what they choose to eat and what is best for their health.
If you want to help regulate the labeling of hydroponic products and keep the real meaning of “certified organic” intact, you can support The Cornucopia Institute and post a comment before march 30 on The Agricultural Marketing Service website.