Frequently Asked Questions

How can I find a CSA farm near me?

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) refers to a direct-marketing system in which farms sell shares of their harvests in advance and make boxes of produce available to subscribers throughout the season. This helps the farmers pay for early expenses like purchasing seed and they, along with their customer-partners, share in both the risk and bounty of the season.

Here are a few options for finding a CSA farm in your area: 

  1. Visit the Community Supported Agriculture page at Local Harvest and click on Find a Local CSA:
  1. Search online for “[State Name] CSA directory” to find resources maintained in many states.
    For example, a search for “Wisconsin CSA directory” brings up the FairShare CSA Coalition:

    And “Minnesota CSA directory” identifies the Land Stewardship Project:

    As well as Minnesota Grown:

  1. Ask your favorite vendors at your local farmers market if they offer a CSA option.
What resources are available to locate the best local organic food?

In the 20 years that OrganicEye’s Executive Director, Mark Kastel, has focused his broad-based background in agriculture on watchdogging the organic industry, he has found virtually no improprieties in local, direct-marketed organic food. That’s a far cry from the corruption and fraud that has been all too common in industrialized organics. He recommends connecting with farmers at local markets and has also shared the following resources in his Kastel’s Kitchen broadcasts (also available in the “Resources” section on

  1. Eat Wild:
  2. Local Harvest:
  3. Weston A Price Foundation: They have chapters around the country that can guide you to secure some of the best food locally.
  4. Some State Departments of Agriculture also maintain a searchable database of farmers in their respective states that market directly to consumers.
  5. Real Organic Project:
  6. National Cooperative Grocers Association: Their website includes a searchable database of most of the member-owned natural foods grocery stores that helped build the movement. The best are, “like a farmers market seven days a week.”
How does OrganicEye define organic/organics?

When the word was initially coined, it generally referred to farming in consort with nature rather than using toxic chemicals, and primarily involved shunning synthetic fertilizers (principally nitrogen sources) in favor of composted livestock manure. But after World War II, when synthetic pesticides became more ubiquitous, organic farming favored crop rotation and resistant cultivars over the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.

 When organics became commercialized in the 1970s and 1980s, most certifiers agreed on the standard of farms eliminating toxic agrichemicals for a minimum of three years prior to certification. That has now been codified in federal law.

 At OrganicEye, we believe that organics is about more than just eliminating synthetic chemicals. Authentic organic practices promote superior environmental stewardship, humane animal husbandry, and economic justice for the farmers who produce our food.

Who is allowed to use the word “organic” on the label?

Today, unless you are exempt by virtue of being a direct farm-marketer with an annual sales volume of under $5000 per year, you can only use the word “organic” in your marketing or on your label if you are inspected annually and certified by a third party organization accredited by the USDA’s National Organic Program.

How can I find meat, milk, or eggs from unvaccinated animals or animals that are not vaccinated with genetically engineered drugs?

As we understand it, mRNA vaccines are currently only being used on a very limited basis in hog production. So, if you are buying meat from any other species, mRNA vaccines should not be an issue. However, that is not true of other genetic engineering techniques.

Our best advice is to use one of the resources listed below to locate local producers of milk, eggs, and meat, and to ask the farmer/rancher some direct questions about how their animals are raised, including what kind of feed and drugs are being used.

For beef, choose 100% grass fed/grass finished. Certified organic is best but if they tell you they are using no drugs or vaccines and that the animals only eat grass that isn’t sprayed, then you are probably in good shape.

The same guidance is generally true for sheep and goats (ruminants) whether they are raised for meat or milk.

Chickens can’t live on grass alone. They need to have grains as the majority of their diets, even when being raised and labeled as “pastured poultry.” So even if the farmer isn’t certified, ask if they are buying certified organic corn, soybeans, or other feed. Some folks prefer no soy be used in the ration.

To locate farmer-direct marketers we recommend the following resources:

  1. Eat Wild:
  2. Local Harvest:
  3. Weston A Price Foundation: They have chapters around the country that can guide you to secure some of the best food locally.
  4. Some State Departments of Agriculture also maintain a searchable database of farmers in their respective states that market directly to consumers.
  5. Real Organic Project:
  6. National Cooperative grocers Association: Their website includes a searchable database of most of the member-owned natural foods grocery stores that helped build the movement. The best are, “like a farmers market seven days a week.”
    Can you please share Mark Kastel’s recipe for homemade yogurt (made from fresh, unpasteurized milk)?

    I source my fresh milk directly from a local farmer and friend. If you are using fresh milk, you will obviously want to obtain it from a certified organic farm or a farmer who practices organic crop production and animal husbandry. You can make yogurt with pasteurized milk if you prefer, but I’ve never tried it.

    Laws regarding the sale and purchase of raw milk vary from state to state so it’s important to do your research. It can be purchased legally in over half the states. Some only allow buying direct from farmers, while others allow sales in grocery stores. 

    It is equally important to be confident in the practices of the supplier. (I certainly would not consume unpasteurized milk from just any dairy.)  The Weston A. Price Foundation is a good resource for information on raw milk and for locating local suppliers.

    Yogurt Recipe

    1. Make sure all your equipment is clean. The only microorganisms you want to add to your milk are the ones you use as a culture.
    2. Very slowly and gently heat your milk to 180°. This will kill any organisms that might interfere with the culture. Some folks claim that you can produce yogurt at lower temperatures, but I have never tried it. I’m sure you could find more information about that online if you’re interested.
    3. Allow the milk to cool down to 110°. Time will vary, depending on the season. I speed up the process by setting the pot on the cool basement floor or out on my porch in the winter.
    4. Once the milk has cooled, it’s time to introduce your culture. There are some commercially available varieties, but I prefer to use some yogurt from a previous batch or that I have purchased. (My backup brand here in the Midwest is Seven Stars from Pennsylvania. For people on the East Coast, Butterworks or Hawthorne Valley would be good options, as well. Maple Hill is also pretty widely available.) I use approximately 1 tablespoon of culture per gallon of milk. Experts say more is not necessarily better.
    5. Mix the culture in a cup of the cooled milk and gently stir to break up the yogurt as much as possible. I use a slotted spoon.
    6. Stir your cup of starter culture into the pot of milk using a back-and-forth (not circular) motion.
    7. Pour the cultured milk into glass canning jars and cover, stirring the pot before filling each jar to make sure the culture is evenly distributed. I use quart jars but other sizes would work just as well.
    8. I incubate my milk overnight in the oven with just the lightbulb on. I sometimes briefly turn the oven on low for a minute or two so it’s just barely warm before I start. (Be sure to turn it off before putting the yogurt inside!) Some people prefer to put the jars in a warm water bath in the sink or use other methods of incubation, but this has always worked well for me.
    9. It’s best to do this overnight when you aren’t active in the kitchen because disturbing the yogurt could interfere with the “set.”
    10. In the morning, very gently take the yogurt out of the oven, being careful not to jostle the jars or set them down on the counter with too much force.
    11. I put them into my freezer for about 20 minutes to hasten the cooling process but that isn’t necessary. They could just go directly into the refrigerator after cooling for a bit on the counter.

    I hope this helps you make great yogurt you can be proud of, at less cost than most commercial brands.


    When did the organic movement begin?

    While organic practices had been in use for thousands of years before the introduction of synthetic agrichemicals, what we refer to as the organic movement is thought to have begun in earnest in the early 1900s. Agricultural pioneers such as Albert and Gabrielle Howard, Rudoph Steiner, Lord Northbourne, Lady Eve Balfour, and George Washington Carver laid the philosophical foundation for organic farming. In the 1940s, J.I. Rodale—widely recognized as the founder of the organic movement in the United States—established the Rodale Institute and Rodale, Inc. to further study and spread the principles and practices of organic agriculture. The periodicals and books he published on organic farming and gardening materially popularized the approach to food production.

    Additional information on the history of the organic movement can be found on the Rodale Institute website ( Noted organic farming advocate Roger Blobaum’s “Selected Organic History Milestones” ( provides an interesting and valuable timeline, as well. Mr. Blobaum is a longtime former formal advisor and mentor to OrganicEye’s Executive Director, Mark Kastel.

    Are all products with the USDA Organic label created equally?

    In theory, they should be. The primary impetus behind the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) by Congress in 1990 was to develop a single national organic standard. Prior to the passage of OFPA, there was a Byzantine patchwork of individual, private certifiers, and a few state laws that were not always compatible. Additionally, many of the certifiers would not recognize each other’s standards so it became impossible to create multi-ingredient certified organic products.

    Even after the passage of OFPA, some certifiers found ways to profit handsomely by certifying factory dairies with as many as 20,000 head or more, egg “farms” with over a million birds, and/or giant hydroponic greenhouses with plants growing in liquid fertilizer solutions instead of rich organically-stewarded soil. While products from such operations may carry the USDA seal, we believe our money is better spent on food from farms following both the letter and spirit of the law. For a primer on how to choose well in the grocery aisles please check out this archived episode of Kastel’s Kitchen:

    There are a lot of different seals on food these days. Why is it so important to protect the integrity of the USDA Organic seal?

    Many add-on labels provide information about individual issues—some of which are already covered by organic certification. For example, a food certified as USDA Organic would, by definition, be GMO-free, while a product labeled “non-GMO” may or may not be organic. Other labels build on the USDA Organic standards to ensure that best (or better) practices are being followed. By working to protect the integrity of the existing USDA Organic seal—and hold the USDA accountable for fully and consistently enforcing the standards set by Congress—OrganicEye is endeavoring to ensure that consumers are truly getting what they’re paying for and that authentic organic farmers and producers have a level playing field for their wares.

    How does corporate corruption in organics impact someone who is not a farmer or producer?

    Many of us are willing to pay a bit extra for our food when it comes from farmers and businesses whose values align with our own. Based on the spirit and letter of the laws governing organics, livestock should be managed humanely—including having the opportunity to exhibit their natural instinctive behaviors outdoors (grazing for ruminants like cows, sheep, and goats, and forging for bugs and seeds for poultry).


    And the soil where both feed crops for livestock and food for human consumption are grown should not include toxic agrochemical residues. If true organic practices are utilized, not only will these crops be safer, they will also be more flavorful and nutrient dense.


    In the worst-case scenario, corruption means outright fraud—substituting conventional products and labeling them “organic” (with certifiers either not catching them or intentionally looking the other way). And that affects us all. 


    In addition, OrganicEye is also fighting a corrupt conspiracy between corporate lobbyists and the USDA, which is allowing livestock factories and industrial-scale operations to produce substandard organic food. That is not acceptable, and we will not rest until we can restore full integrity to the organic label.

    As an independent organization, how does OrganicEye fight the corrupt system?

    In terms of being investigators, we are not private eyes. We are public eyes. Our investigations are designed to empower organic stakeholders, farmers, ethical businesspeople, eaters, and other organizations to take action. Our work has also led to major prosecutions that we hope will act as deterrents going forward. Since much of what happens at the USDA is done under a cloak of secrecy, our goal is to lift that barrier and amplify the public’s ability to have an impact.


    We speak truth to power!

    What will my donation be used for?

    OrganicEye is recognized as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity by the Internal Revenue Service. All donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of law. We are chartered as a research and educational nonprofit. Donations pay for staff and expenses, including our website and other electronic communication vehicles, phones, printing, and postage, along with costs associated with our investigations. We are in the information business—information that should rightfully belong to the public. If the USDA was performing their job, as charged by Congress, our work would be less critically important.

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