Image contrasting vegetables grown in soil on the left and vegetables grown hydroponically with a worker in the background on the rightLeft: Produce grown in rich, biologically active soil. Right: Crops raised hydroponically. The plants are fed a liquid fertilizer solution that is delivered directly to the root system.

When most of us think about organic fruits and vegetables, we picture healthy produce springing from soil teeming with life.

But your certified organic tomatoes and cucumbers (along with berries, summer squash, and more) may have originated in a sterile, indoor, hydroponic system — fed inputs purchased from organic fertilizer companies.

All of the nutrients in soilless growing are manufactured and applied directly to the plant roots. This food lacks the complex flavor and abundant bionutrients found in soil-grown produce.

Unfortunately, the USDA organic seal no longer guarantees your organic produce was grown in carefully stewarded and biologically active soil. We know that Cornucopia supporters care deeply about where their food comes from. To help you choose soil-grown organic produce, we are updating our Guide to Avoiding Soiless Organic Produce.

And we need your help to make that guide even better! The next time you shop for groceries, scan the options for certified organic tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini, and take some notes (and photos if you can). Then fill out this form:

  • Sharing your email is optional, but it enables us to contact you with questions.
  • Drop files here or
    Max. file size: 512 MB, Max. files: 2.

    Read Cornucopia’s report, Troubling Waters, to learn how soilless production came to be certified organic in the first place.

    If you enjoy being our eyes and ears in the marketplace, please consider joining us as a volunteer Cornucopia Watchdog. We are looking for individuals in all 50 states, rural and city dwellers, willing to send us details about which organic brands are available in your local markets and co-ops and answer periodic questions regarding the availability of local, organic food. Email [email protected] if you’re interested.

    Give a Gift

    The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agriculture and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media.

    Stay Engaged

    Sign up for The Cornucopia Institute’s eNews and action alerts to stay informed about organic food and farm issues.

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.