For most businesses, transforming their sourcing practices into all-organic models overnight is not realistic. It can take time to build up the necessary network of suppliers and distributors. That’s why the best first step is often to start small, by sourcing some ingredients organically from local organic farmers.
There is unfortunately no single central database of organic producers that businesses can use to source ingredients, but there are numerous places to start. Many USDA certifiers maintain databases of the producers whom they certify. Since most of these organizations operate at the state or regional level, they’re good places to look for organic food partners. For ingredient sourcing on the West Coast, for example, a food manufacturer could turn to the database maintained by CCOF Certification Services, which has over 5,000 certified members throughout California, Oregon and Washington. Meanwhile, some organic food databases, such as Local Harvest, cover the entire United States.
Depending on how much a business is able to source organically, it may be able to list the organic ingredients on one or more product display panels. But there are stringent standards for which conditions the ingredients must fulfill, what phrases can be used and where they can appear. The USDA’s Organic Labeling Standards provide further detail.