The system is far from perfect, but the USDA has strict guidelines for most things organic, including animals raised for food like cows and chickens.
In order to be certified organic and to earn the famous USDA green-and-white seal, the animals must be given a diet of organic feed, free from GMOs and artificial pesticides.
Organic advocates also are fiercely protective of the sustainability of organic food as well. And that distinction is at the crux of why many are concerned about what’s happening with the first-ever USDA certification program for farmed organic fish.
What’s in an Organic Fish, Anyway?
Of course sustainably caught wild fish is the definition of an “organic” fish if one in fact exists, but with the popularity of organic food exploding many fish farms are hoping to take advantage by becoming certified.
The USDA is now considering a set of rules for organic farmed fish, but what they’re allowed to eat is the number one concern on the minds of organic food activists.
“What the national organic standards board recommended was that there would be some allowance for non-organic fish feed that would be phased out after a 12-year period of time,” said Miles Mcevoy, the deputy administrator of the USDA’s National Organic Program, to Harvest Public Media.
But having an organic diet is very important according to advocates like Lisa Bunin, the organic policy director at the Center for Food Safety, who said that a 100 percent organic diet should be the standard.
Fish farmed in pens and on farms can also be exposed to toxins and diseases, which has led her organization and others to oppose the rules.
Comment Period Coming Soon
In addition to those concerns, the sustainability of organic fish has been called into question. With many farmed fish given smaller fish to eat, the sustainability of the food source has also been called into question by consumer groups.
Meanwhile, these concerns are being addressed by the organization as organic foodies wait with bated breath. The USDA will decide on the guidelines by this summer and a 60-day comment period will allow consumers the chance to voice their thoughts.
Will the first-ever “organic fish” truly be organic or will a weak compromise again further erode the credibility of the term, and the USDA? Stay tuned.
What are your thoughts on the first “organic fish”? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget you can like us on Facebook for more by clicking here as well.