Sarvodaya Farms Food Health & Safety Guidelines

last edited: 02/24/16

At Sarvodaya Farms, we believe that the safest food is nutrient-dense food grown in healthy soil that is rich in beneficial microbes. Food grown in healthy soil not only provides the maximum amount of nutrition for the eater, but also protects itself by maintaining a healthy inner and surface microbial ecology. We, therefore, take every care to maintain a healthy soil biology as our primary line of defense against food-borne human pathogens.

We also take issue with the “sterile” standard of safety in the industrial food system. Sterile food that is laden with pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, and antibiotics are the cause of all major food illness outbreaks, allowing dangerous microbial pathogens to evolve on farms, rather than controlling them through symbiotic relationships with myriad beneficial microbes.

For more info on biologically based food safety, please read Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety by Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University.

Sarvodaya Farms Food Health & Safety Procedures

General Farm Safety Procedures

Sarvodaya Farms firmly believes in the power of biology to create clean, safe, and nutrient-dense food. To this end, we take a variety of measures to ensure that proper soil and plant biology are maintained on our farm at all times. The procedures outlined below describe our general farm safety which prevent food-borne pathogens from developing on our farm.

  1. The following materials are not allowed to enter our farm and are barred from application on our farm fields in any manner:
    1. petro-chemical fertilizers
    2. petro-chemical pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides
    3. biosolids a.k.a sewage sludge
    4. manure from animals heavily treated with antibiotics and de-wormers
  2. Application of amendments to our farm fields are primarily composed of (but not limited to) the following biologically-based materials:
    1. Compost purchased from a commercial composting facility heated to a minimum temperature of 140 degrees (the temperature at which pathogens are killed)
    2. Compost produced on our farm heated to a minimum temperature of 140 degrees (the temperature at which pathogens are killed)
      1. Compost produced on our farm is comprised of the following materials: aged horse stable beddings, forest products, food scraps, juice pulp, coffee grounds, farm trimmings, and other organic materials
    3. Commercially produced certified organic feather meal
    4. Commercially produced ocean sea minerals
  3. We may choose to apply products other than those listed in (2)  as long as they fall within our strict safety standards.
  4. We do not believe in the use of pesticides (organically approved or not) except for in certain extreme cases, such as the imminent loss of an entire crop. The only pesticide we use on our farm is certified organic Neem Oil, an oil derived from the seed of the neem tree. Neem has been used as an insect control substance in India for thousands of years and has a proven track record of safety. In 2015, we used Neem Oil exactly 3 times. As of February of 2016, we have not used Neem Oil at all.

Harvesting Safety

As we believe the produce we grow to be extremely safe, with little to no chance of harboring human pathogens, the primary vector for the entry of pathogens into our farm is through introduction by our farm staff. To prevent contamination of our produce, we take the following precautions:

  1. All farm staff are required to wash their hands with soap and water before beginning to harvest produce and before handling harvested produce.
  2. All farm staff are required to wash their hands with soap and water after using the bathroom.
  3. All farm staff are required to wash their hands with soap and water after handling farm livestock.
  4. All farm staff are required to wash any tools used for harvesting with soap and water before harvesting any produce.
  5. All harvesting equipment such as harvesting bins, tables, and sinks are required to be rinsed before use.
  6. All water used for washing and rinsing of hands and farm equipment is water from the City of Pomona which is required to meet the standards of the Clean Water Act and be free of human pathogens.

Maintenance of a Safe and Hygienic Environment

Maintenance of safe and hygienic environment is paramount to on-farm food safety. To this end, we take the following steps on our farm:

  1. Routine rinsing of all harvesting equipment such as sinks, wash basins, and tables.
  2. Availability of a clean, hygienic restroom adequately supplied for farm staff and guest use at all times.
  3. Maintenance of two separate hand washing stations at the front and back of the farm.
  4. Maintenance of clean and adequate water supply for hand washing and equipment washing

Conclusion

At Sarvodaya Farms, we believe our produce to be among the safest and healthiest available in Southern California. By maintaining healthy biology throughout our farm, we are preventing the development of any human pathogens and by maintaining best practices with our farm staff and equipment, we are preventing the introduction of human pathogens. To the best of our ability, we will maintain the practices outlined above to guarantee the food that we grow be not only rich in nutrients, but also safe and free of human pathogens.