Corporate Dining Companies Buy Local Rather than Organic Labeled Foods

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( — December 30, 2013) Waltham, Massachusetts — 

Many corporate dining service companies have decided to buy their food items from local sources rather than buying foods with organic labeling. There are many reasons for this initiative some of which include freshness, supporting a local area community, availability of items, lower spoilage rates and reduced costs. Apart from all these benefits, another major factor is the confusion with respect to organic food labeling and what it all actually means. Cafeteria managers desire to provide the best and healthiest menu choices for their clients, but many are becoming quite uncomfortable with all the food commodities that are supposedly labeled organic, and if these foods really are organic as advertised.


Deceptive and misleading food labeling abounds making it difficult for cafeteria managers and restaurant managers as well as consumers to make informed decisions about the ingredients in the food products they purchase. Food products labeled Organic, Certified organic, USDA Organic, 100% Organic, Organically Grown or Made With Organic Ingredients are confusing, take time to decipher, and require an understanding of all the variations of the definition of what organic really means. Cafeteria managers read the prominently displayed marketing labels and purchase what they assume to be a healthy organic product only to discover later that the highly priced products may only contain a very small percentage of organic ingredients.


Many corporate dining companies and food distribution services are forming relationships with local area farmers. Based on a trust relationship, these companies can buy locally grown foods at reasonable costs, that are healthy and which use a minimum of harmful pesticides. One company, Café Services, Inc. ( of Londonderry, NH says “we buy direct from local farmers when we can, and work with regional produce distributors that purchase from local farms.”


According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the government agency responsible for the labeling of organic products, the criteria for earning the round green and white USDA Certified Organic label is extensive and strictly enforced. In order to be labeled USDA Organic the product must be free of any GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), sewage sludge, prohibited pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or ionizing radiation. All ingredients in the product must be approved by the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.

Anything used in processing the product is required to be certified organic and products meeting this criteria can be labeled 100% Organic or USDA Organic. A product label stating “Made with Organic (listing of specific organic ingredients)” must include 70% of certified organic ingredients. The remaining 30% of ingredients are not required to be organically grown, but must be produced without the use of GMO’s, sewage sludge or ionizing radiation. These products are not allowed to display the USDA seal or to advertise the product as organic.


Products with less than 70% certified organic ingredients are not required to meet organic certification standards. Since they are not in compliance with USDA regulations they cannot be labeled Organic or use the USDA label. If the product contains organic ingredients, they can be listed on the ingredient section of the product label. Some labels market a product as Organically Grown. While some or all of the ingredients in the product may be organically grown, these products do not meet the certification protocol of the USDA in either growing or processing methods.


An organic label on a meat product is also subject to USDA organic standards. Livestock used for organic meats are antibiotic and growth hormone free. They are fed 100% organic feed, are treated humanely and have access to the outdoors. Some meat labels state that the livestock is grass fed. In some cases, this label is misleading. Be aware that some livestock is grass fed up until about one month before slaughter and then fed chemical laced feeds to fatten them up. To avoid this, the label should read grass fed and finished. Once again, the USDA label insures an organic product.


All of these labels and labeling requirements can be overwhelming and require time and effort on the part of the corporate dining services company, restaurant manager or consumer to carefully read the small print on the label to determine if a product is truly the organic product they intended to purchase. The best alternative for these companies is the option of buying locally. Café Services, Inc. ( states “To sustain the vitality of the local farming industry, we partner with regional suppliers that source their food products from regional farms and vendors. We buy direct from local farms when we can and encourage earth-friendly service and cleaning products at our locations.”


Buying from a local farm is less confusing. For some farmers the process of earning the certified organic farm label is too onerous with all the costs, application fees and the record keeping required. Being responsible farmers, they choose to market their crops using different terms. When asked if a farm is certified organic the answer often is, “no, but we follow organic practices”. These local farmers have eliminated pesticides or use organic pesticides. These local farmers are good stewards of the farm land and use it responsibly.

Given all the benefits, the best answer here is to buy from the local farmer who you know and trust and who follows organic practices.

Cafe Services

201 Jones Rd.
Waltham, Massachusetts 02451