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Where To Find The Best Products

Defining A Trusted Source

After years of nutrient and quality hunting, I have given up on certifications. Instead of seeking out specific farm certification standards, I’ve been keeping tabs on where my favorite farms, mission driven brands, and restaurants are based.

You see, the ingredient itself is only part of what makes your Farm2Me food & bev experience great (or terrible). Your mission-driven founder and/or chef has quite a lot to do with how your finished product compares.

THINK ABOUT IT. WE HAVE OUR GO-TO WINE SOMMELIERS, MIXOLOGISTS, BARISTAS, AND BUTCHERS. BEING TAKEN CARE OF BY AN EXPERT CHANGES EVERYTHING.  INGREDIENTS & PACKAGED PRODUCTS ARE NO DIFFERENT.

Having explored most of the country and many parts of the world in search of great products, my standard is pretty simple.

DO YOU CARE ABOUT THE PLANET OR NOT?

People think that making a sustainable jam is easy. (It is!) But making a seasonal jam? That’s hard. Really hard. Especially when you’re pressured to get four thousand pounds of strawberry or blueberry out every month. But that’s what separates the amateurs from the mission-driven pros - they realize they don't have to compromise the ingredients to grow their business, care for their customer's health, and care for the planet.

 

 

My Category Standards

Support small family farms!  And small batch mission driven brands!  You can shop by core value, and find products that share those same values.  We have been building a small batch local food system since 2010.  We do the research — find brands that are truly doing the right thing, and don't let big corporations buy them out or grow chemical food on their land. We know how time consuming and confusing it is to do the research — so we do that too — because we can't go back to the way things were. 

Farm2Me is run by farmers, fisherman, ranchers, and bakers. Transparently connecting you with producers, accessibly and affordably are at the core of a successful local food model. We want everyone to be able to afford local food, like our grandparents did, by shopping from local growers and producers at the local-level.  

 

Produce Growers

These philosophies are the most important in our criteria process:

  • We always put flavor first: we harvest and pick ripe on demand, per order, so we always find the best of the season. The flavor is the best, and shelf life out lasts the competitors 200% - 800% longer than a competitor/distributor.
  • Local farmers and growers: We are a location-based marketplace, nothing is grown outside of your area, and nothing is sold outside of the farms immediate region. That means a smaller carbon footprint, cheaper prices, no storage, fresher produce, and a sustainable business model.
  • Our growers focus on ecological sustainability: Our growers focus on regenerative systems, polyculture, biodiversity, and leaders in renewable energy.

Transparency

Growers need to be open to allow us to visit and ask questions about their growing practices. We and our growers advocate for the Food Safety Modernization Act (2021).

Organic, Biodynamic, Regenerative, and Demeter

All the growers we work with go beyond Organic standards, because that is not enough for us - with the following exception:

Labor practices

All of our growers agree to adhere to the following criteria:

  • No forced labor or human trafficking used directly or via their supply chain
  • No prison labor used directly or via their supply chain
  • No child labor used directly or via their supply chain
  • All employees are paid above minimum wage
  • All contracted employees are paid at least minimum wage
  • Regular labor practice audits of suppliers, where feasible, or signed affidavits that they also meet our labor standards.
  • Growers must not discriminate in any employment practices, including hiring, based on any California protected class.
  • Growers must create a workplace free of coercion and harassment.  Employees must be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Growers must have a reporting process that provides multiple accessible resources for reporting, including resources independent from management.
  • Growers may not retaliate against employees for reporting harassment.
  • Growers must promptly and thoroughly investigate claims of harassment.
  • Growers must periodically train employees on harassment policies.
  • Growers must provide employees with a safe working environment, following all applicable health and safety laws.
  • Employees must be able to take sick leave when ill without retaliation.
  • Employees must be able to unionize or otherwise collectively organize for their interests without retaliation.
Banned substances (ie. processes)
  • Irradiation treatment
  • Neonicotinoids
  • Paraquat
  • 1,3-D (Telone)
  • Glyphosate (Roundup)
  • Atrazine
  • 2,4-D
  • Methyl Bromide
  • EPA Toxicity Class I (highly hazardous) pesticides
  • EPA Toxicity Class II (moderately hazardous) pesticides
  • Any pesticide not registered with the EPA

 

Meat Sourcing

Our meat producers meet the following standards. We focus on these standards first:

  • We aim to support vertically integrated operations where animals are allowed to grow at a natural pace and slaughtered at an older age, compared to conventional operations.
  • We aim to utilize all parts of the animal wherever possible. This helps us decrease waste, pay ranchers a premium price, keep every aspect of the process within the local economy, and honor the life of the animal.
  • We support ranching operations that go out of their way to use holistic grazing practices that improve the land and have a net positive environmental impact.
All meat producers (beef, pork, sheep, goat & poultry) must provide the following documents to us:
    • Third party labor certification or join Farm2Me's Small Batch Certification.
    • USDA Slaughterhouse paperwork.
    • Organic certification (if marketed as organic).
    • Animal Welfare claims.
    • Non-GMO certification if marketed as GMO-Free Certified.
    • A list of farms/ranches from which animals are sourced.
All meat producers must allow us to come on site. They need to produce a list of their rancher and/or butcher for sourcing meat. All animals must:
  • Be raised in the United States.
  • Not treated with hormones.
  • Not treated with subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics. If an animal is treated with a therapeutic dose of antibiotics, it cannot be subsequently used for production.
Specific guidelines for ruminants (beef, sheep & goat)
  • In addition to the documents listed above, producers of ruminants must provide GAP Step-4 or Step-5 certification, AWA Certification, Certified Humane or letter of guarantee that it adheres to at least Step-4 standards.
  • Ruminants must be raised on pasture, and not finished on a feedlot.
  • Ruminants must not be raised or finished on a CAFO/AFO as defined by the USDA (AFO- animals confined more than 45 days in a 12 month period, CAFO as an AFO with more than 1000 animal units).
  • Ruminants must not be fed or finished on GMO corn or soy.
  • We prioritize working with ranchers who raise 100% grass-fed and finished animals, and upcycled vegetable produce that would otherwise go to waste.
Specific guidelines for pork
  • In addition to the documents listed above, pork producers must provide GAP Step-3, -4, of -5 certification or letter of guarantee that it adheres to at least Step-3 standards.
  • Pigs must not be raised or finished on a CAFO as defined by the USDA (as a non-pastured-centered AFO with more than 1000 animal units).
  • Pigs must not be fed or finished on GMO corn or soy.
Specific guidelines for poultry (chicken, duck, turkey, and other game birds)
  • In addition to the documents listed above, poultry producers must provide GAP Step-3, -4, of -5 certification or letter of guarantee that it adheres to at least Step-3 standards.
  • Birds must have access to pasture 100% of the time or meet Cornucopia standards of 4+.

All of these criteria cover any product that is more than 50% meat by weight or volume or is the first ingredient. Any meat used as an ingredient that isn’t covered by these criteria must meet the sourcing criteria for the category under which the product containing meat falls.

 

Seafood Sourcing

In order to be considered for inclusion in our Marketplace, whole fish and seafood products must meet the following baseline criteria. Our catch from our oceans, lakes, rivers and streams sets standards with help from Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® and Fish Revolution. From salmon rillettes to jarred oysters and trout roe, we’re proud to cast our net wider into the responsible fishing community. Standards

  • Caught in US waters.
  • Processed and handcrafted in the USA or US territories.
  • Free of artificial ingredients, including colors, flavors and preservatives.
  • All ingredients, animal or otherwise, must be sustainably sourced, traceable, non- GMO, and wherever possible grown without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers.
  • Caught or farmed with respect and fair compensation for everyone working on the vessel, farm and in the kitchen.
  • Made with fish or shellfish or seaweed from well-managed, environmentally responsible fisheries and farms. Farmed finfish must be from land-based facilities, and fed a non-GMO diet free of animal by-products.
  • All wild caught fish must be rated “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch®.
  • Swordfish must be caught in US waters using harpoons, handlines or deep-set buoy gear only.
  • Made by a crafter that is an upstanding member of the good food community, committed to equity and inclusion in all levels of their business, as exemplified through integrating these practices:
  • Offering a diversity, equity, and inclusion training to staff members and/or leadership annually.
  • Thoughtfully acknowledging the heritage of culturally-specific food on websites, packaging and/or marketing materials.
  •  For the small percentage of brands that operates on a significantly larger scale, meeting additional criteria related to board diversity, maternity leave and employment practices.
In addition, all seaweed entries must be harvested or farmed in compliance with the following standards:
  • Ensures purchase of seaweed from farmer prior to harvest.
  • Post-harvest processing of seaweed is done within 24 hours, or 1 week if refrigerated, to maintain product quality.
  • With an emphasis on encouraging the symbiotic relationships of species.
  • In a way that sustains regenerative life cycles, with thought for the specific needs of different species to ensure the success of future harvests.
  • With an emphasis on maintaining a safe distance from hazardous waste streams and tidal currents.

 

Egg Sourcing

In order to be considered for inclusion in our Marketplace, eggs and egg products must meet the following criteria. Our standards are based on the Cornucopia Institute Standards of 4+. All chicken & duck egg producers must provide the following documents to us:

  • Proof of USDA or CDFA Registration
  • Proof of California SEFS compliance
  • Proof of Certified Humane Raised & Handled, for non-Pastured.

Egg producers must be fully transparent, which includes allowing us to come for site visits. We only carry whole eggs from small family farms and ranches local to you, and we only sell eggs in their region. Chicken and duck eggs must be pasture raised (raised 100% on rotating pasture in mobile housing), or cage-free, according to USDA regulations. All cage-free eggs in the Marketplace are Certified Humane Raised and Handled. Again, refer to the Cornucopia Institute Standards of 4+ to see our standards. Any other egg species must be pasture raised.  

 

Dairy Sourcing

Dairy (including fluid milk, cheese, and other derivatives) as an ingredient must be sourced from dairy herds in accordance with the following baseline standards:

  • Animals are not raised on a CAFO/AFO as defined by the USDA (AFO: animals confined more than 45 days in a 12 month period; CAFO: an AFO with more than 1000 animal units)
  • All dairy animals have unlimited access to pasture and outdoors.
  • Usage of growth hormones and sub-therapeutic antibiotics is strictly prohibited.
  • Individual animals that become sick or injured receive required antibiotic treatment and are removed from the production supply chain during the course of treatment

 

Processed & Packaged Goods Criteria

We’re committed to carrying an assortment that reflects the needs of the families we serve and comes from producers who share our mission. Here’s what we consider when stocking the Marketplace. Before we add a new product, we form a direct relationship with the producer to ensure that their mission and sourcing practices are in line with our high standards. All products and their sub-ingredients must meet them — our standards are consistent with everything we sell, including any items prepared by the Farms.

Transparency and labor practices

We’re always looking for producers who source via direct trade, or have knowledge of their suppliers’ sourcing practices and are able to disclose country of origin for internationally sourced ingredients. If a producer does not meet these standards, we aim to work with them on a timeline and a plan for moving towards them. All products adhere to the following standards:

    • No forced labor or human trafficking used directly or via their supply chain
    • No prison labor used directly or via their supply chain
    • No child labor used directly or via their supply chain
    • All employees are paid at least minimum wage
    • All contracted employees are paid at least minimum wage
    • Regular labor practice audits of suppliers, where feasible, or signed affidavits that they also meet our labor standards.
    • Producers must not discriminate in any employment practices, including hiring, based on any California protected class.
    • Producers must create a workplace free of coercion and harassment.  Employees must be treated with dignity and respect.
    • Producers must have a reporting process that provides multiple accessible resources for reporting, including resources independent from management.
    • Producers may not retaliate against employees for reporting harassment.
    • Producers must promptly and thoroughly investigate claims of harassment.
    • Producers must periodically train employees on harassment policies.
    • Producers must provide employees with a safe working environment, following all applicable health and safety laws.
    • Employees must be able to take sick leave when ill without retaliation.
    • Employees must be able to unionize or otherwise collectively organize for their interests without retaliation.

Food safety & compliance

All producers we work with, whether direct or via centralized distribution, must provide proof of FSMA compliance, including 3rd party food safety audits of production facilities (as applicable).

Ingredient integrity

All the products we carry are free from artificial flavors, colors, and the ingredients specified in our unallowable list. Any product in which meat is listed as the first ingredient, or is more than 50% of the product by volume must meet our animal-specific welfare standards. If product is less than 50% meat by volume we still require disclosure and verification of the following baseline standards:

  • Animals are raised free of confinement as defined by the USDA with meaningful outdoor access
  • Animals are not raised on a CAFO/AFO as defined by the USDA (AFO: animals confined more than 45 days in a 12 month period; CAFO: an AFO with more than 1000 animal units)
  • Animals are confined only when necessary.
  • Responsible antibiotic and hormone usage.
  • Animals have access to wholesome and nutritious feed, free of GMOs and animal by-products.
Any product in which fish or seafood is more than 50% of the product by weight or volume must meet our seafood-specific welfare standards. If product contains fish or seafood byproducts totaling more than 5% of the total volume or weight of the finished good, producer must be able to provide information on the fisherman of origin and a signed labor affidavit. Eggs as an ingredient must be sourced in accordance with our specific egg criteria. Dairy (including fluid milk, cheese, and other derivatives) as an ingredient must be sourced from dairy herds in accordance with the following baseline standards:
  • Animals are not raised on a CAFO/AFO as defined by the USDA (AFO: animals confined more than 45 days in a 12 month period; CAFO: an AFO with more than 1000 animal units)
  • All dairy animals have unlimited access to pasture and outdoors.
  • Usage of growth hormones and sub-therapeutic antibiotics is strictly prohibited.
  • Individual animals that become sick or injured receive required antibiotic treatment and are removed from the production supply chain during the course of treatment

 

No GMOs or Genetic Engineering

We have implemented a sourcing system in which the following standards must be met:

  • All producers must share proof of 3rd party non-GMO certification for their products or a letter of guarantee that products containing the following ingredients (canola, corn, sugar beets, soy, whole fruits & vegetables) are non-GMO certified.
  • In accordance with our dairy and meat criteria, GMO-inputs in animal feed are not allowed.
  • All products are free of ingredients produced via gene editing, which is also known as GMO 2.0 or CRISPR technology.
Every product we’ve added to our Marketplace since March 2010 meets these standards, and we are committed to reviewing all previously added products for compliance by the end of 2020.   Along with our baseline criteria, we also look to build enduring relationships with producers that are reshaping our food system for good.  To that end, we prioritize businesses and suppliers that:
  • Pay their employees a living wage.
  • Carry third-party labor certifications such as Food Justice Certification, FairTrade, Fair for Life, etc.
  • Are certified B-Corp or are incorporated as Public Benefit Corporations.
  • Have employee ownership or cooperative ownership structures.
  • Share the cost of medical/dental/vision/other insurance benefits for both employee and their families.
  • Undertake programs that give back to their immediate community.
  • Promote practices that promote environmental sustainability and regenerative agriculture
  • Conserve water usage and utilize renewable energy in production or processing
  • Products are certified organic or utilize organic ingredients.

We also prioritize products that are certified organic or use organic ingredients - though we dont believe Organic standards are high enough. So, because we’re working with local and small-scale producers for which 3rd-party certification (such as organic) is often cost-prohibitive, we don’t require those certifications for these goods. In that case, we do obtain supporting documentation and written guarantees they meet a higher standard as outlined above.

 

Banned Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll never find in a product you purchase from Farm2Me :

Acesulfame-K (acesulfame potassium)

Acetylated esters of mono- and diglycerides

Ammonium chloride

Artificial colors

Artificial flavors

Artificial preservatives

Artificial sweeteners

Aspartame

Azodicarbonamide

Benzoates in food

Benzoyl peroxide

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)

BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)

Bleached flour

Bromated flour

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

Calcium bromate

Calcium disodium EDTA

Calcium peroxide

Calcium propionate

Calcium saccharin

Calcium sorbate

Calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate

Caprocaprylobehenin

Carmine

Certified colors

Cyclamates

Cysteine (l-cysteine), as an additive for bread products

DATEM (Diacetyl tartaric and fatty acid esters of mono and diglycerides)

Dimethylpolysiloxane

Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DSS)

Disodium calcium EDTA

Disodium dihydrogen EDTA

Disodium guanylate

Disodium inosinate EDTA

Ethyl vanillin

Ethylene oxide

Ethoxyquin

FD & C (synthetic) coloring agents

GMP (disodium guanylate)

Hexa-, hepta- and octa-esters of sucrose

High fructose corn syrup

Hydrogenated fats

IMP (disodium inosinate)

Lactylated esters of mono- and diglycerides

Lead soldered cans

Maltodextrin

Methyl silicon

Methylparaben

Microparticularized whey protein derived fat substitute

Natamycin

Natural Flavors

Partially hydrogenated oil

Polydextrose

Potassium benzoate

Potassium bromate

Potassium sorbate

Propionates

Propyl gallate

Propylparaben

Saccharin

Sodium aluminum sulfate

Sodium benzoate

Sodium diacetate

Sodium glutamate

Sodium propionate

Sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate

Solvent extracted oils, as standalone single-ingredient oils (except grapeseed oil).

Sorbic acid

Sucralose

Sucroglycerides

Sucrose polyester

Sulfites (except in alcoholic beverages)

TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone)

Tetrasodium EDTA

Vanillin, when not naturally derived

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