>There exists at least one other option, and I would welcome commentary
>from everyone involved in buying, selling, marketing, or regulating,
>since the concept can be applied much more widely than just to the
>"organic" market. This option is basing the regulatory frame, not upon
>the dollar amount sold, but on the level of anonymity involved in the
>transaction chain, or the number of steps between producer and consumer,
>or some kind of measure other than a financial one.
I agree totally, big or small, size has nothing to do with it.
Certification is institutionalised trust. When the trust relationship
is there, you don't need the institution. In fact, I'll take
well-placed trust over 'institution' any day of the week. The question
of certification has everything to do with distance and intermediaries.
Allow me to quote from an article I wrote in Growing for Market in May
of 1999. I was referring to lot numbers, but that is a good substitute
for the whole system of certification.
"[certification] is almost always unnecessary for vegetables sold
primarily into local markets (CSA, farmers' markets, farm stand, a few
restaurants, etc.) In broad terms, if there is no more than one
intermediary between you and the customer you can dispense with
[certification] altogether for produce. Once you get into wholesale
markets, however, where there are two or more intermediaries,
[certification] is generally more important." (page 8)
Let me add, since some folks seem to have some confusion about the
matter, that I am categorically opposed to government involvement in
certification beyond (possibly) the establishment of minimum standards
as a mandatory *floor* (not ceiling), thereby eliminating all the
California Code charlatans currently undermining the market for
legitimate organic growers of all sizes.
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