Organic Certification vs. Sustainable Agriculture
The Grace Communications Foundation lays out the difference between organic agriculture and sustainable agriculture. It begins with the organic regulations prohibiting antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and requiring that animals have access to the outdoors. While most organic farms also follow sustainable practices, organic involves a precise certification, while sustainable agriculture is more of a way of life. Large organic farms may keep their animals indoors all the time, providing large windows as access to the outdoors. Further, there are big organic businesses that will minimally adhere to the regulations in order to earn their certification. Many smaller farms, on the other hand, don't want to pay the expense of getting certified so they will follow or exceed organic standards and will seek other adjectives for their produce, such as naturally grown. Organic farmers may not give any of their animals antibiotics, while sustainable farmers may give sick livestock antibiotics as long as they let these run out of the system before selling the meat or milk of such animals. Artificial hormones are prohibited in both organic and sustainable agriculture. Organic farms may be large, are increasingly owned by corporations and may transport food hundreds of miles to stores and tables. Sustainable farms are usually small and minimizing food travel miles is important.