Friday, April 23, 2010

Organic Doesn't Always Mean Organic

Prominent Brands Using “Organic” in Their Name When Products Don’t Qualify

If you went into a store and saw products from Oskri Organics, Organic Bistro, or Newman’s Own Organics, would you assume that the products were organic?

If you assumed this, you could be wrong. Currently, there's nothing to stop companies from using the words “Organic” and “Organics” in their brands, even if their products are not certified organic. All three of the brands I mentioned above do sell non-organic foods.

Unfortunately, it is a case of "let the buyer beware", at least for now. 

For more, see this story from the Cornucopia Institute. The Cornucopia Institute is a fantastic organization whose tag line is "Promoting Economic Justice for Family Scale Farming". They are a David against the Goliath of agribusiness. Let's hope things turn out the same way.

And for a good discussion of why organic processed foods are only slightly better than processed foods anyway, and definitely do not qualify as "real foods", see Agriculture Society's post here.

(This post is part of Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday.)


Adrienne said...

Thanks for bringing this up, Alex. It drives me absolutely batty that there's no regulation for the word "organic."

Anonymous said...

I agree, it's really criminal.

Marianne Elixir said...

My husband and I were just discussing this very thing this morning!

Craig Hickman said...

There are many sides to an issue.

I don't believe the word organic should be regulated. No one owns it anyway. And it doesn't even mean the same thing to everyone. Not even to those agencies or organizations charged with the certifying.

Besides, technically speaking, anything derived from living organisms is organic. So, is cow manure organic no matter what the cow eats or is the manure organic if it only eats organic hay?

Some folks sell certified organic chicken, but the chickens are still raised in inhumane conditions. They never graze, or root, or roost. They eat organic feed and take no antibiotics, but....

I'll eat a pastured chicken that isn't certified organic, so long as it's not being pumped with antibiotics, over a caged certified organic chicken any day of the week.

Transparency is more important than certification.

Alex Lewin said...

Craig, totally agreed.

I get my meat and (raw) milk and (usually) eggs from farms and farmers. They are not certified organic, as far as I know. Being able to have a conversation with a farmer, or at least getting the story behind the food, means way more than some ambiguous word on a package. "Meat Of Known Origin" is what it's all about. (And milk and eggs.)

Transparency *is* more important than certification. It also doesn't cost anything, while certification is frequently quite pricey for small farmers. And favoring transparency over certification avoids creating an "us vs. them" environment among farmers.

Christy said...

It just makes it so hard to know when you are being taken to the cleaners - I try to buy my "organic" food in its most REAL form. But there are many things that I wont pay for like organic mac n cheese. Maybe a little healthier than kraft, but if I am going to feed my kids something that processed I just go ahead and buy the cheap stuff - so that I can pay the $$ for the fruit, veggies, meat and milk that I think is more important to eat "organically, or free range - know my farmer". We all got to figure out what is right for us and our families.

kara said...

Apparently organic sausage doesn't have to be cased in organic casing. In fact, organic casing is near impossible to find! Does anyone have a source?