The Great Hall
Organic Fish The Great Hall: Organic Fish
By Mr_Cook (Mr_Cook) on Thursday, November 30, 2006 - 05:18 am: Edit

Does anyone know what the term "organic fish" defines?
Where are they sold?

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Thursday, November 30, 2006 - 02:25 pm: Edit

There is no officially government sanctioned "Organic Fish" label, as far as I know. But I would think that any wild caught fish that wasn't treated with any color, preservatives, water retaining or other additives could be considered ORGANIC.

As far as farm raised they would have to be fed certified organic food and not be treated with antibiotics or be genetically modified. I don't know about any organic farm raised trout, cat fish, tilapia or shrimp but there is a company in Vancouver and one in Scotland that say their Salmon is as close as you can get right now. Even so it's controversial.
On Efforts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Certify Farmed Fish as Organic

By Mr_Cook (Mr_Cook) on Thursday, November 30, 2006 - 09:19 pm: Edit

This was on page one of the NY Times two days ago and is what got me thinking about this topic.
Surprisingly it looks like "wild" fish will never get the organic certification. As food professionals it seems there is evolving a new definition of "better", or one emerging and "slouching its way" towards us, with many more dimensions.

Free or Farmed, When Is a Fish Really Organic? - New York Times

By George (George) on Friday, December 01, 2006 - 11:20 am: Edit

The whole organic thing confuses me.

How can a processed fertilizer or food be considered organic?

My daughter just did a science project where she grew beans and tested the efficacy of organic fertilizers vs non organic ones. The “organic” was a a processed product, how is that organic. I thought something like manure, oyster shell or fish oils or something like that made it organic.

To confuse things more the article points to says that to be organic the fish has to be farm raised ??????

I can see antibiotic or hormone free but the title organic just seems like a scam.

Looking at the list of members of the Organic Trade Association such health food companies as Kraft and this one- “Butter Buds Food” make me laugh. From their website “Butter Buds Food Ingredients uses proprietary enzyme modification technology to "unlock" the hidden, potent flavor in butter, cream, cheese and other flavorful fats, delivering highly concentrated flavor in convenient powdered form.”
Now that sounds yummy and organic to me. (not)

Really just sounds like a fraud to me.


By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Friday, December 01, 2006 - 12:52 pm: Edit

The Label "Organic" was coopted by big business years ago. Using the logic that there had to be strict guidelines and a vetting process. They first subverted it by saying it was to costly to make sure that something was 100% organic so there is an allowance for some percentage of non-organic content then the vetting process was made so expensive only big corporations could afford it.

Even now virgin Brazilian rain forest is being cut down and plowed under to make room to plant "Organic" vegetables destined for the American dinner tables.

That's not what the hippies intended.

Better to think in terms of "Sustainability" than "Organic".

By Mr_Cook (Mr_Cook) on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 05:36 am: Edit

I believe that what the "hippies" intended was predated by many. Most significantly is James Irving Rodale (Wikipedia-->August 16, 1898 - June 9, 1971, known as J. I. Rodale, was one of the first advocates for sustainable agriculture and organic farming in the United States.) I feel that in the long run, to be sustainable means to we will have to have respect and reverence for the land and soil, and that means applying a more natural or organic "theology".

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 11:31 am: Edit

Organic Fish? Part 1

by Eric Sideman, Ph.D.
Copyright 2006

The word organic has become a household word during the 20 years I have worked for MOFGA. When I first took this job, I had to explain to friends and family what organic meant. Now they make a point of showing me the organic items in their refrigerators.

Purchasing organic products brings good feelings to consumers because of their satisfaction in helping family farms, protecting the environment and living up to their own self-image. Hence, the word organic now has great value in the marketplace, and businesses of all kinds want to profit from it.

Those of us who grew up with organic and know its heritage need to protect its meaning and keep it from becoming too vague, like many marketing terms, such as ‘natural’ or ‘green,’ used to make consumers feel good about buying products. Organic farming began with taking care of the soil and is based on management and practices that produce healthful food. If stretched too much, the term will lose all value.

Certification of organic food has changed, too. The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) is now the statutory foundation for certifying organic agricultural commodities, and it represents quite well what historically has been called organic. The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) has done a commendable job of developing regulations that enforce the OFPA for producing vegetables and livestock. Both OFPA and the NOP standards clearly say that production practices make an item organic--but the Final Rule does not address many items that marketers want to label as organic. One of these is aquatic animals.

In 2000, an Aquatic Animal Task Force began to determine how such production could meet OFPA guidelines. (I served on that Task Force and at that time was a member of the National Organic Standards Board, or NOSB.) In June 2001, the Task Force presented its final report to the NOP and the NOSB.

In 2001, the Task Force concluded that operations that capture wild aquatic animals do not reflect the degree of producer management, continuous oversight and discretionary decision-making that characterize organic systems. Accordingly, the Task Force recommended that the NOSB and NOP not develop organic standards for wild caught fish. On the other hand, the 2001 Task Force recommended that aquaculture systems, which raise aquatic species in captivity, could operate in compliance with the OFPA, if and when specific standards are developed to regulate such production systems.

A new Aquaculture Working Group, created in 2005, presented its Interim Final Report to the NOSB in April 2006. The standards do a fair job of reflecting what organic is, but they stray on a few points. We need to let the NOSB know we are watching and want strict regulation of farming practices to determine what is and what is not organic. Furthermore, some issues discussed in the regulation of aquaculture will have repercussions on wild fishing, which is also seeking organic certification.

I want to stress that the NOP Final Rule is a practice-based regulation, as organic standards were historically in the organic community before the NOP and should continue to be. The use of the organic label on aquatic products should be based on practices implemented by the producer while producing a product, and qualities of the site where production occurs. The OFPA mandates this.

Regulations that describe practices used to produce organic aquatic livestock should meet the mandates in OFPA rather than trying to reinterpret or rewrite OFPA to meet present conventional production practices. The new Aquaculture Working Group has done a good job of recognizing this in its Interim Final Report.

Let's look at the Aquaculture Working Group Interim Report‘s proposed standards (also posted at

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 11:32 am: Edit

I. Applicability (Part 2)

The first Aquatic Animal Task Force noted that by including "fish used for food" in the definition of livestock, the OFPA requires that any fish used for food that is to be labeled organic must be raised in accordance with NOP standards. Therefore, any producer labeling a fish as organically produced must comply with all applicable requirements and restrictions for livestock production in the OFPA, and the NOSB is responsible for advising the Secretary on standards for producing and handling fish. To clarify the meaning of the term "fish," the NOP developed the term "aquatic animals" to refer to finfish, shellfish and other aquatic invertebrates used for food, either propagated in a selected, controlled environment (aquaculture) or taken from free ranging marine or fresh water populations (wild capture). So, agreement is widespread that the USDA has the authority to say what is or is not organic fish.

II. Designation of Site

OFPA clearly mandates that the area in which organic products are produced have defined boundaries. This is important, and the Interim Final Report could state this more clearly. It is important because, for the producer take responsibility for the feed the livestock eat, the living conditions of the animals, the health care provided for the animals and the environmental impact of the production system, that producer must know where the animals are. The producer could not assess the impact of the surrounding environment on the organic status of the livestock, nor the impact of the production system on the surrounding environment, if the production site were not defined.

I suggest that the Interim Final Report be modified so that it mandates that the

Organic Plan for an operation of an aquaculture facility clearly designate the area of operation.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 11:33 am: Edit

III. Environmental Impact (Part 3)

The OFPA mandates that an organic production system not be destructive to the environment. The Interim Final Report recognizes this and addresses environmental contamination in a number of sections. However, it often uses the word "minimize" concerning environmental impact; e.g., "minimize the release of nutrients and wastes into the environment." I hope that all systems, not only organic, minimize such releases and that organic aquaculture systems would be held to the same higher standard as any other organic livestock system regulated by the NOP. For example, instead of "minimize," the NOP standard says, "The producer of an organic livestock operation must manage manure in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, heavy metals, or pathogenic organisms and optimizes recycling of nutrients."

The Interim Final Report requires a nutrient management plan for every organic aquaculture facility. This is very good. Nutrient management has the greatest environmental consequence of the practices involved with aquaculture. The source of nutrients entering the system (feed) and the end point of nutrients leaving the system (uneaten feed, manure, etc.) potentially could have great negative environmental impact. The Report includes practical options for managing nutrients. I stress that practices that recycle nutrients within the system and surrounding environment are key to avoiding impact, both in production and feed procurement sites. National Organic Standards should require documenting nutrient recycling in the Organic Farm Plan.

IV. Origin of Livestock

The Interim Final Report recognizes that organically produced aquatic animals must be raised in a discrete population, similar to a herd of cattle or flock of poultry, that is brought under continuous organic management beginning very early in the animal's life. It permits collecting slaughter stock from the wild, but only with regulations on age.

In addition, the Report discusses the environmental impact of collecting stock from natural populations, but I do not think the environment is protected enough here. The Report is not as strong as the present Rule for other wildharvested goods and OFPA. The Interim Final Report talks about collecting broodstock from the natural environment and says "that natural populations and the collected individuals are protected and that biodiversity in the ecosystem is supported." However, I hope that any organic aquatic animal regulations are at least as strong as the NOP Final Rule that says, "A wild crop must be harvested 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." The phrase "not be destructive" presently in the National Organic Program Rule is much clearer than "biodiversity in the ecosystem is supported," which the Report suggests.

V. Livestock Feed

The OFPA mandates that producers provide organically produced animals with organically produced feed. I am comfortable with the potential for this to occur in aquaculture systems in designated areas where producers are responsible for what feed they use and for feed that moves into or grows in the area. This is similar to terrestrial livestock that graze in designated areas under producers‘ management.

I also accept the exception in the NOP Final Rule that nonsynthetic substances, and synthetic substances included on the National List, may be fed as feed supplements and feed additives to balance a feed. But clarification is needed as to what is a feed and what is a feed supplement or additive. The OFPA is very clear that feed must be organic, so I strongly believe that the basic feed groups of protein, fat and carbohydrate must come from organic feed. The OFPA does not provide for "natural" sources of feed. So, as I read the OFPA, natural ingredients used as supplements must be limited to balancing specific nutritional needs, but supplements may not be used to provide livestock with a significant portion of protein, fat or carbohydrate, unless they are organic products.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 11:34 am: Edit

The Interim Final Report is very fuzzy on this issue. It suggests that fishmeal made from wild fish may be permitted as a major component of feed for fish aquaculture. I do not believe that fish meal made from wild fish can be called organic, for two reasons. First, many people are under the misconception that fish meal is a waste product of fish processing and that recycling this waste is good. But only a small amount of fish meal actually comes from waste. Most comes from overfishing natural populations of wild fish, such as herring and anchovy, for the purpose of making fish meal. A huge amount is harvested. Environmental Defense in Murky Waters reports that 27% of the world's wild fisheries production is now converted to fish meal for animal feeds. Although the poultry and hog industry make feeds that are only a few percent fish meal if any, the aquaculture feed for fish, such as salmon and trout, is 20-70% fish meal. Natural populations of wild fish are very threatened by this practice; it would be a travisty to call an aquaculture product organic when the feed comes from overfishing, with its environmental distruction and ramifications in the food web.

Furthermore, the first Aquaculture Task Force concluded that operations that capture wild aquatic animals do not reflect the degree of producer management, continuous oversight and discretionary decision-making that are characteristic of organic systems, so I don't think that wild fish or the fishmeal made from them should be called organic. Since the OFPA clearly states that organic livestock must eat organic food, fish from aquaculture based on fishmeal should not be called organic.

What should the fish be eating? This is an interesting question. They could eat fish meal from the waste of processing organic fish. Salmon actually eat salmon in nature, so in captivity they might eat a meal made from waste of organic salmon processing. They could eat organic crop products, although they would then need methionine supplements. Perhaps certain species that cannot be grown without fish meal just cannot be organic.

Fishmeal could be used in limited amounts as a natural supplement to balance amino acids, but the use of wild fishmeal and oil should be limited.

VII. Livestock Living Conditions

I believe that managed aquatic animals should be called organic only if they are raised within a secure, defined production system that accommodates the animals’ health and natural behavior and minimizes the risk of escape. The Report does a good job addressing the regulation that producers must maintain healthy water conditions with respect to temperature, oxygen concentration, pH and toxins, including ammonia and carbon dioxide. The importance of protecting the natural gene pool from escaped livestock species cannot be overemphasized.

Rather than "minimize" environmental impact, as the Report is now written, I believe that the regulation must require that producers maintain production systems, whether self-contained or located in open water, in a manner that does not contaminate water or soil with nutrients, heavy metals or pathogenic organisms. Producers should prioritize recycling of residual nutrients produced by the operation. Production systems located in open water must be sited and managed to avoid the potential for contact with prohibited substances, including environmental pollution.

Organic fish? Maybe, but only if its cultural practices reflect the principles of organic production. Let's work hard to protect the meaning and value of the word we made popular. The Aquaculture Working Group just submitted its report, from which the NOSB will develop standards. People’s comment to the NOSB about the report will be considered as the NOSB develops recommended standards ( After the NOSB submits recommendations, the NOP will use those to develop a Rule change that will be published in the Federal Register; this will provide another opportunity for comment.

Eric is MOFGA’s director of technical services. You can address your questions about farm and garden crops and practices to him at or 568-4142.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 11:37 am: Edit

Doesn't mean much!!!!!

Legal definition

To be certified organic, products must be grown and manufactured in a manner that adheres to standards set by the country they are sold in:

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 11:40 am: Edit

Types of Organic foods

Fresh food
Fresh food is seasonal and perishable. Vegetables and fruits are the most available type of organic, fresh food, and are closely associated with organic farming. They are often purchased directly from growers, at farmers' markets, from on-farm stands, supermarkets, through speciality food stores, and through community-supported agriculture (CSA) projects. Unprocessed animal products like organic meat, eggs, dairy, are less commonly available in their purely "fresh" form.

Chips, cookies, and other snacks are an example of processed food.
Processed food
Processed food accounts for most of the items in a supermarket. Often, within the same store, both organic and conventional versions of products are available, and the price of the organic version is usually higher (see modern developments). Most processed organic food comes from large food conglomerates[7] producing and marketing products like canned goods, frozen vegetables, prepared dishes and other convenience foods.

Processed organic food usually contains only (or at least a specified percentage of) organic ingredients and no artificial food additives, and is often processed with fewer artificial methods, materials and conditions (eg: no chemical ripening, no food irradiation).

Identifying organic food
At first, organic food comprised mainly fresh vegetables. Early consumers interested in organic food would look for chemical-free, fresh or minimally processed food. They mostly had to buy directly from growers: "Know your farmer, know your food" was the motto. Personal definitions of what constituted "organic" were developed through firsthand experience: by talking to farmers, seeing farm conditions, and farming activities. Small farms grew vegetables (and raised livestock) using organic farming practices, with or without certification, and the individual consumer monitored.

The National Organic Program (run by the USDA) is in charge of the legal definition of organic in the United States and does organic certification. It administers the Organic Seal to products and producers that meet strict requirements.Consumer demand for organic foods continues to increase, and high volume sales through mass outlets, like supermarkets, is rapidly replacing the direct farmer connection. For supermarket consumers, food production is not easily observable, and product labelling, like "certified organic", is relied on. Government regulations and third-party inspectors are looked to for assurance.

A "certified organic" label is usually the only way for consumers to know that a processed product is "organic".

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 11:41 am: Edit

Good reading in wikipedia on Organic

By Mr_Cook (Mr_Cook) on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 04:15 pm: Edit

Thanks for the quotes and thoughts of others.
What do you say about Chefmanny?
Do you/have you eat organic products (not organic corn flakes)? If so why. If not why.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 05:41 pm: Edit

I don't particularly care for organic, if you think about it organic means as natural as possible. This to me means the possibility of many pathogens, not to mention all the crap that can grow on these products since they are not sprayed or treated. Six of one or half a dozen of the other, die of natural pathogens or cancer from the pesticides?????
The only organic thing I eat is attached to two legs....and I don't mean chicken!

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Tuesday, May 08, 2007 - 08:02 am: Edit


Do you have proof of this claim that rainforest is being taken down for the harvesting of "organic" produce for the American market?? If so I would like to read and see this.

Also, I feel that organic is good in the original concept, just that big business has taken it away from what it was really all yes, we do have to look more for sustainability rather than "organic".........although I really wish we could rid our markets of foods that are GM, enhanced, fortified and hormoned out.

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Tuesday, May 08, 2007 - 02:13 pm: Edit

Chef Nathan,
There is no single succinct source. What I do have is my own research and a conversation with a USDA official.

If you put it all together, the story points to new organic production on Brazilian rainforests, not to mention other environmentally sensitive lands in other developing countries. The true context for all of this is the debate about whether or not more land needs to be brought into production in order to meet the increasing global demand for food. Most conventional sources think that more land needs to come into production and yields need to increase. Most pro-organic types dispute this and argue that distribution efficiency needs to increase. One place you do find agreement is on the assertion that if sensitive lands are converted to agricultural uses it would be better if they were converted to an organic or sustainable system (for ecological and economic reasons.) It is difficult to find any scholarly article criticizing organic production on newly cleared land. (I just spent a long time trying.) It is more productive to criticize conversion for conventional agriculture or support adoption of organic or sustainable practices if land is converted to agriculture.

I can forward you a slew of links and articles that can piece things together.


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