Today was our annual control from EcoCert, our organic certifying body. Every year they come and check out that we are using the correct, that is organic, products. In our case this involves handing him a whole load of bills for seeds and soil, and the organic certificates of the suppliers, as well as the bills and certificates from any plants we may have bought from other suppliers. This is followed by a walk around the out door growing area, in other words our garden which is a mess of plant covered tables, half barrels filled with the mother plants for our the mints, tarragon, and verbena. Then down to the polytunnel to check out all the germinating seeds and the small selection of vegetables we grow in Spring. As we wander round you get a grilling about any fertilisers you may use, none in our case, and how you control pests, luckily squashing them seems to be a perfectly acceptable approach. That is it, we have to prove a negative, that we don’t do stuff rather than we do. It all has a rather sureal quality about it, we have to prove we don’t do things while the industrial producers only have to show, that no matter how much herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers they use, their produce does not poison people.
We usually sit and have a chat about what is going on on the Occitan and Catalan organic scene, it is a good chance to catch up with the wider organic picture. I have got to say that EcoCert has a skill at employing very likable, intelligent young controllers. It is always a pleasure chatting to them about our lives and work.
As well as controlling our production we get an annual or bi annual check up in the markets to ensure we are actually selling the products we are certified to sell, that often leads to some rather heated discussions with a few of my colleagues who resell others produce in times of shortages, and a few that have been known to put non-organic produce beside their organic stuff and ‘forget’ to label it as such. Luckily down here the producers are pretty honest, the same cannot be said of certain resellers, though our lot in Lezignan, Perpignan and Narbonne are a pretty good crew. A survey was once done of ‘organic’ resellers in markets in the Parisian region, the results were not pretty, over 70% of produce resold had been mislabeled.
So, as always the best people to buy organic products are certified local producers and transformers, but then I would say that.