KY is pretty much on the money with his comments. We have many small growers here who sell incredible products - be they dairy, meat, poultry, produce. Many are truly organic, in the sense that KY describes, but are not "certified" as such because of the time and cost involved. For example, there's an olive oil I often use that is "more" organic than many of the certified USDA organic oils, but the oil has not beeb certified organic, and doesn't carry the USDA seal. Many products carry the USDA seal, but are not 100% organic, although most people don't know that. Only if a product says it's 100% organic might it be 100% organic.
The laws here were, essentially, written by the major corporations. However, because we have such good stewards of the land in many of these small farmers and producers, we can actually get better products than USDA organic even though the products aren't certified as organic. Strange, isn't it.
Now, there are some small producers of meat, poultry, eggs, and to a lesser extent, dairy, who, because of the nature and demand for their products, charge a lot more - some egg producers are charging as much as $6.00 or so for a dozen eggs. And before you dismiss this as highway robbery, bear in mind that commercial organic eggs can cost more than $3.00/dozen here. The difference in taste is like night and day, and the process of producing these higher quality eggs is substantially different. The chickens are fully pastured, really are free range and cage free, and eat a varied diet of wild and natural food as well as whatever grains the producer uses to supplement that diet. These are truly "old fashioned" eggs. And while the production of similar quality chicken is limited (it's growing), and therefore expensive, their taste is also incredible, and the birds are a lot happier and far more humanely raised.
For a while the only people who could get these eggs and chickens were certain restaurateurs, like Alice Waters at Chez Panisse,but with the infusion of cash from Alice and others, production has increased and cost and availability to the consumer have dropped and increased respectively.http://www.edibleeastbay.com/pages/a...iveMeAHome.pdf
Some of the great produce farms here are small - 10, 20, 30 acres. Compare that to 30,000 acres farmed by Earthbound farms, a big commercial organic produce oiperation. Rarely will I eat Earthbound's mediocre organic produce, much preferring these small producers, who, surprisingly, often sell for the same or lower prices than the big operations who have the power of scale on their side.
There are also some markets that overcharge on their "organic" produce, which is why the farmers markets can sometimes be such a good deal. Heads of very fresh lettuce at 3 for $2,50 are a much better deal than supermarket organics - fresher, cheapper, and healthier.
We have a lot of farmers markets here. The list below is only for the East Bay, doen't include San Francisco and the northern and southern counties that ring the bay. The large number of markets assure the small producers of a good number of outlets for their produce - truly "direct from farm to the consumer." A lot of produce is picked the day it is sold, although most, by neccessity, is picked the day before. Still, a lot fresher than the commercial stuff which, by the time the consumer gets it, can be five to seven days old.http://www.edibleeastbay.com/pages/a...fs/markets.pdf
So, as KY said, we're spoiled here ... and if it sounds as though I'm proud of what the Bay Area and other nearby areas can provide, and what the farmers and ranchers are doing, well, you're right. And I'm very happy to know that other areas of the country are doing similar things - we NEED
a return to traditional values and quality. We need to return to eating real food, not the junk that's in so many markets these days.