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Next time you are purchasing produce, be sure that it is sustainability certified. Know what to look for and choose Protected Harvest to ensure you are purchasing food that is grown in compliance with strict environmentally sound standards for soil, water and pesticides.
Protected Harvest is an independent American non-profit organization headquartered out of Soquel, California specializing in field certifications for farms that produce sustainably grown crops. Protected Harvest began as a unique group effort between the World Wildlife Fund, the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Association and the University of Wisconsin. Environmental Organizations, agricultural specialists, scientists and marketing experts have teamed up to form the sustainability council that provides a measurement of what constitutes a sustainable product. Soil, air, and water quality, and habitat preservation are all taken into account and the aim is to reduce environmental impact and decrease the need for chemical input. Protected Harvest’s motto is “The Earth is our bottom line.”
What does the Protected Harvest certification mean?
They make sure that producer’s meet region and crop specific standards through an extensive audit with nine specific sections to comply with: These include fields such as Pest Management, Weed Management, Insect Management, Soil and Water quality, Storage as well as others. Those who work on the ground such as the farmers and processors propose standards to the Protected Harvest board and those proposed standards are then peer-reviewed by scientists before being approved by environmentalists. The certification is given by a third-party if the standards are approved and evaluations are conducted to see if modification is necessary to improve impact. Through this process, the best practices are brought forth that are most beneficial to both the farms and industry workers as well as to sustainability and it assures retailers and consumers they are purchasing sustainably grown products.
Protected Harvest strives to help famer’s meet environmental standards that yield high quality products while preserving land for generations to come. Healthy Grown Potatoes in Wisconsin was able to reduce their environmental toxicity units of pesticides by 37% in a four-year period through the certification of Protected Harvest. Growers are expecting that within 1-2 years one-third of United States stone fruit will be certified.
Protected Harvest educates famers emphasizing the importance of sustainable agriculture; in turn promoting high quality crops that are readily available to customers at an affordable cost. Unlike a USDA certified program that is operated and recognized under the United States Department of Agriculture, Protected Harvest is an industry-regulated program that can be trusted. They aim to make a more sustainable agriculture industry by reducing environmental impacts.
Current Protected Harvest Crops
There are currently quite a few Protected Harvest crops certified with more on the way. These include:
- Potatoes under the label Healthy Grown (Wisconsin)
- Stone fruit including nectarines, peaches, and plums under the label Zeal (California)
- Mushrooms under the label Modern Mushrooms (California/Pennsylvania)
- Over 21,000 acres of wine grapes (California)
- Citrus and mandarins are currently in their first year of certification
- Tomatoes, dairy production, and more are currently undergoing various levels of certification completion
- Protected Harvest | The Earth Is Our Bottom Line. <http://www.protectedharvest.org/>
- Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2006