Should Hydroponic Crops Be Labeled Organic?

Some farmers are saying absolutely not.

by Dani Yokhna

Should Hydroponic Crops be Labeled Organic? (

Food labeling is a subject that can spark outrage and debate among those in the farm and food community. The latest dispute took place this week during the National Organic Standards Board meeting over labeling hydroponic greenhouses as Certified Organic. Some organic farmers to make their views known by dumping compost in the parking lot of where the advisory board was meeting, ABC News reports. The protest also involved tractors and 50 people with signs. According to ABC News, the dispute lies in allowing produce grown without soil to be labeled organic.

“Organic farming of terrestrial plants needs to happen in the soil,” Dave Chapman, of Long Wind Farm in East Thetford, told ABC News. “It’s a basic principle of organic farming that you feed the soil, not the plant, that you cultivate the life in the soil.”

Others say “organic shouldn’t have anything to do with where the crops are grown … [and that] ‘organic’ is something that should refer to the nutrients that are used to grow the crops. … To grow something hydroponically, sand, gravel or water is used, instead of soil. Nutrients are added in,” ABC News reports.

There is an argument that hydroponic farmers work just as hard as other farmers and any crop that doesn’t use any synthetic materials should be considered organic. The first meeting of the federal hydroponics task force is scheduled for November; however, it won’t report back to the board until next year, according to ABC News.

What side do you fall on? Should any crop, whether or not it uses soil, be considered organic if it doesn’t use synthetics? Or must soil be used to have the ‘organic’ label? Let us know in the comments.

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