So anyway, I read a lot of news in the morning, and am usually drawn to food articles (maybe because I'm always hungry, who knows...), but this article from the New York Times got me in a pensive mood. The article talks about how large corporate interests are diluting the meaning of organic - by slowly adding lists of exceptions in food processing, stacking the boards with corporate interests, and placing dollar signs about integrity. This is nothing new, just a reminder of what we knew has been going on since the organic branding started to take off in 1995.
I've often shied away from committing to the organic culture, usually out of convenience or the fact that I'm cheap at heart, plus that I'm not all that convinced that eating organic is really going to improve my health or save the world. Maybe the environment, but things like shipping foods across large areas or requiring more water or "natural" fertilizer (still contributing to nutrient loading to our rivers) to grow organic food also gets me to become a little nervous. Not to mention that there is evidence that we have to find alternative solutions to feed the globe. There are ALWAYS trade-offs, and no decisions are easy or come cheap. The list of damning articles about the pitfalls of organic as a mass produced commodity goes on, and on, and on...
The "certified organic" label, and the faith that goes into it from the consumer, doesn't mean much anymore when a number of synthetically derived items are going into your food. Usually these additives are to maintain texture, promote taste, all the things that go into making processed food what it is and why most people are drawn to it.
Even my favorite store in the universe, Whole Foods, is one of the prime culprits for promotion of additives. I'll still shop there though, call it what you will ;-). But what bothers me is the sad migration and corruption of an honest intent, given the high dollar signs that organic labeling commands.
The solution? If you are one of these religious organic consumers, pay attention to what you are buying and don't trust anyone. Ask questions, look online, google things. An app that I find really helpful is Fooducate, which compares many items and looks at synthetic additives in foods to help you make good choices. Not buying organic foods because you don't trust the certified organic label is the best way to send the message that you don't like what is going on.
produce where you get the best benefits from buying organic such as stone fruits and spinach.
Finally, organic shoppers, relax a little bit, and enjoy good healthy food that is naturally low in fat and sugar and high in fiber and protein. Protecting your heart and keeping your weight down will do many wonderful things for your health, and your life, and might just be more important than following the organic label to religious zeal.
Don't forget to treat yourself to some spaghetti with american cheese every now and then when you need a treat ;-). Did you know that Whole Foods doesn't sell "american cheese"? Cheddar doesn't cut it. Kraft singles, baby! Ok sorry for the aside...
Happy farmer photo courtesy of Organic Valley Coop