Being Organic – What does it mean?
If you purchase our pasture-raised eggs, you’ll know that only our Vital Farms and Pasture Verde eggs are Certified Organic. On a crowded shelf, it can sometimes be a little confusing to understand what this means – in amongst the ‘free-range’, ‘cage-free’, ‘added Omega-3s’ eggs, how important is an Organic Certification, and how does it fit in with other labels and terms, like ‘NonGMO’ and ‘pasture-raised’?
Firstly, we started pasture-raising with a mind to organic principles throughout – we never use herbicides or pesticides on our fields, nor do we add or treat our ladies with hormones or antibiotics. So in that regard, all our girls, regardless of the supplemental feed that we provide them, enjoy an exceptional level of lifestyle, and we follow sustainable and organic farming practices on all our family farms.
However, we also appreciate the need for diversity. While we are happy to be able to offer eggs produced by hens provided with a conventional supplemental feed (Alfresco Farms and Texas Chicken Ranch), and, just recently, our new Backyard Eggs that come from birds provided with a nonGMO Project Verified feed, the Organic Certification remains the highest certification that we maintain. As this certification already covers the exclusion on GMO ingredients, it’s the most intensive environmental certification there is.
Taken in combination with our Certified Humane standards, which are the highest animal welfare standards in the country, we think that gives us the happiest hens making the tastiest eggs!
But the Organic Certification is a rigorous process that covers more than just a spot check of the feed that we provide our Vital Farms and Pasture Verde girls. Our organic certifier conducts regular audits at every one of our organic farms and packing facilities, a process we just went through this last week at our Onion Creek farm and Austin packing plant.
On the farm, the auditor’s main job is to ensure that we’re only using approved organic materials in our production practices, and that the number of eggs we’re producing equates to the number of birds we’re raising. He walks our pastures and observes each flock of birds, verifies that our pastures are regularly rotated to provide fresh grass to our ladies, and that we don’t use any pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers anywhere on our pastures. He reviews all our records, including our supplemental feed records, to ensure that we’re only sourcing from certified organic mills, and talks with our caretakers to verify that they have a good understanding of organic principles.
During the inspection of the packing facility, the auditor’s primary focus is to verify that all organic eggs that are run through our plant are clearly identified and kept separate from any non-organic eggs (such as our Alfresco Farms eggs), from the moment they are transported from the farm, all the way through to when they are packed into the egg cartons. He inspects our cooler and egg washing/packing machine, any materials (such as egg wash) that we use to be sure they are compliant with organic regulations, and then reviews our records for production and sales to ensure that no non-organic eggs are being packed as organic.
It may be a long, detail-intensive process, but we feel it’s essential that we can assure our customers that our Vital Farms and Pasture Verde eggs truly meet the organic standards. And we’re proud to say that we passed again with flying colors!