DEAR NEW FARM:
I purchase "green" wild rice from Native Americans
on three Indian Reservations in Northern Minnesota. All rice
is harvested from wild, natural stands in area lakes and rivers
on the reservations. I process, package and sell it to a variety
of consumers. To sell it as an organic product, what do I
need to do beyond following the organic labeling requirements
and registering as a handler? Thank you!
Although it may seem logical to assume that any crop harvested
in the wild should qualify as organic, in practice "wild"
areas are highly variable and may be subject to contamination.
Roadsides can be contaminated with heavy metals and soot from
vehicle exhaust, for instance. Many railroad embankments and
power line right-of-ways are sprayed with herbicides periodically.
As a result, wildcrafted crops must meet organic regulations
if they are to be sold as organic. The "Wild crop harvesting
practice standard" (§205.207)
is among the shortest sections in the federal organic rule
(view the full rule here).
It includes two key requirements. Crops must be harvested:
• “from a designated area that has had no prohibited
substance. . . applied to it for a period of 3 years immediately
preceding the harvest of the wild crop," and
• "in a manner that ensures that such harvesting
or gathering will not be destructive to the environment and
will sustain the growth and production of the wild crop."
Organic crops harvested in the wild can thus come from land
that is not itself technically certified, although it must
meet the same basic requirements as certified acreage. Certifiers
may ask for harvest locations, field management histories,
descriptions of buffer zones and/or affidavits of adjoining
land use. They'll want to know about harvesting methods and
Also be sure to check out our Certifier
Directory for an organic certifier in your area. Thanks
for using NewFarm.org.
us with comments, suggestions and questions.