Greenhouse growers’ group calls for national standards
Certified Greenhouse Farmers is calling for a standard, enforceable definition of what constitutes a “greenhouse.”
Formerly known as the North American Greenhouse Hothouse Vegetables Association, Certified Greenhouse Farmers says rising demand for greenhouse-grown produce makes now a critical time to create a national standard definition for greenhouse production.
“Unlike certified organic, there is no standard national definition for greenhouse production,” said Ed Beckman, Certified Greenhouse Farmers president, in an association press release. “Consumers and retailers that purchase greenhouse-grown produce should be assured that produce labeled as greenhouse is, in fact, produced in a defined greenhouse.”
“Without such protection, consumers are, in fact, paying a premium for what is essentially a field-grown product.”
Currently, more than 50 percent of tomato sales in supermarkets are those packaged as greenhouse grown, according to The Perishables Group. Within the tomato category, greenhouse tomatoes on the vine are preferred by nearly one out of three shoppers. Representing the single highest tomato purchase, it continues to grow at a rate well above the category, data shows.
According to the association, California is the most aggressive state in defining greenhouse-grown produce, with labeling laws that prevent marketing produce as such unless it is hydroponically grown in an approved structure. Certified Greenhouse Farmers advocate for a definition similar to that one, and in harmony with one under consideration by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Canada’s proposal reads: A fully enclosed permanent aluminum or steel structure clad in either glass or impermeable plastic for the controlled environment growing of certified greenhouse/hothouse vegetables using together: computerized irrigation and climate control systems, including heating and ventilation capability; a soilless medium that substitutes for soil (under the greenhouse/hothouse); hydroponic methods; and Integrated Pest Management, without the use of herbicides.
All Certified Greenhouse Farmers’ members meet that definition. In addition, members undergo food safety audits and meet certification standards.
For more information, visit www.CertifiedGreenhouse.org.