Here's what 'next-gen organic' looks like
Now that consumers are accustomed to seeing "organic" and other eco-friendly labeling on their products, a new group seeks to replace the USDA organic label with a next-generation seal.
The Regenerative Organic Alliance of the Rodale Institute introduced a new food product label designed to encourage and reward continuous improvement in agricultural practices: the Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC), which officially launched earlier this month at the Natural Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim, Calif.
According to the alliance, the Regenerative Organic Certified Label (seen above) builds on the standards set by the USDA organic label by putting a strong emphasis on soil quality and, most notably, setting social fairness benchmarks that focus on the health and safety of farm workers.
The Rodale Institute, which is spearheading the Regenerative Organic Certification label along with a coalition of farmers, scientists, nonprofits, and sustainably-minded companies, says it seeks to plug the gaps in the USDA standards and address some of these long-held consumer concerns. The Regenerative Organic Certification consists of three pillars: soil health, social fairness, and animal welfare.
In terms of animal welfare, the Regenerative Organic Certification looks for grass-fed and pasture raised animals, which goes further than the USDA organic rules, which only say animals must have access to the outdoors and that rudiments, like cows and sheep, must have access to pasture land during the grazing season, a minimum of 120 days a year.
The new label would also prohibit concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which are massive industrialized feedlots that cram upwards of 1000 cattle into crowded, concrete quarters. In addition, it would adhere to the five freedoms of animal welfare, and seek to minimize transport distances for animals that can lead to excess suffering.