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Labels Matter! What's in Your Compost & Your Food?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page, Genetic Engineering page, Toxic Sludge & Organic Compost page, and our California News page.
On January 1, 2012 labeling of organic fertilizers also known as Organic Input Materials (OIMs), as defined under AB 856, takes effect in California. What does that mean to home gardeners and family farmers who worship the worm and its band of microscopic cohorts partying like rockstars in our compost piles? This new labeling requirement means that under the California Department of Food & Agriculture fertilizer law "input" materials acceptable to be used in an organic program of production will be distinguished from conventional chemical inputs and regulated in accordance with National Organic Program (NOP) and Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) standards.

A tremendous amount of effort has been invested in providing consumers with information about organic "input" fertilizers including, under the provisions of AB 856, giving CDFA authority to:

• Require registration of Organic Inputs Materials including compost • Require inspection of manufacturing facilities and records • Impose penalties for misrepresentation

"Labeling of OIM products like compost provides consumers with useful information previously not required by manufacturers including product contents, directions for use and information on use for Certified Organic operations," says Professor Stephen Andrews, soil scientist at UC Berkeley, California. He advises to always look for the CDFA Organic Input Material logo, and read all package labeling before you purchase any fertilizer.

Why am I so compost-obsessed? Because I'm tired! With compost you get healthy soil that works for YOU instead of you working so hard for your petunias, your lame, oversized lawn and your cherished heirloom tomato plants. What's the magic ingredient? Microbes! Soil microbes. There are billions of them partying in every spoonful of healthy (compost-filled) soil. These macro and microorganisms eat and excrete plant food, and multiply. That's their job. And they're happy doing it. They are your people. They're busy keeping your plants healthy so you don't need to spray dangerous chemical fertilizers and pesticides on to your turf and into your local creeks by runoff.