By Blair Doucette, MScN
What does Certified Naturally Grown Mean?
Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) is a grass-roots alternative to the USDA’s Organic program. Through this CNG alternative, farmers audit each other to ensure sustainable practices and procedures are being met. It gives the farmer the benefit of being a part of a farming community with plenty of resources, while also giving the consumer the reassurance that their food is grown without the use of any synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms.
How is this different from “Organic”?
Certified Naturally Grown is essentially the same as organic in process and principle with less of a burden of paperwork (so the farmer can focus their energy on the farm) and for a donation instead of a large annual fee. Often, obtaining the certification of Organic is cost-prohibitive for the smaller farm and going the CNG route is more appropriate for selling to their local communities.
Becoming Certified Naturally Grown requires being inspected by other local farmers, which promotes the sharing of ideas and solutions, and a community approach. The auditing CNG farmer can walk the fields, talk with the grower, and engage with the entire growing process all while offering support. Additionally, CNG randomly selects a farm every year for pesticide residue inspections to ensure strict practices are continuously being upheld. The CNG process also offers transparency. Every certified farm has a profile on the CNG website, where you as the consumer can see their inspection results and process.
Take-aways: CNG is the best option for small farmers who want to be a part of a helpful farming community, while also offering the promise of safe and responsible practices to the consumer.
Check out their website for more information: https://certified.naturallygrown.org/