Common Misconceptions About Organic Food and Farms

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Organic Vegetables

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The organics industry is young, but it is booming. So much so that even global corporations with all the finances and resources in the world (literally) have trouble filling orders under “organic” label criteria. And even that: that global corporations are part of the mix, meaning that one of the spices in your organic ketchup may have come from Peru—where:

  1. Regulations for organic farming may differ and/or can’t be easily monitored, and
  2. The carbon dioxide from such a well-traveled product almost cancels out the humanitarian quest to go organic in the first place.

Business Week recently shed spotlight on one brand familiar to me in the organics aisle:

Stonyfield Farm yogurt. With its contented cow and green fields, the yellow container evokes a bucolic existence, telegraphing what we’ve come to expect from organic food: pure, pesticide-free, locally produced ingredients grown on a small family farm.

So it may come as a surprise that Stonyfield’s organic farm is long gone. Its main facility is a state-of-the-art industrial plant just off the airport strip in Londonderry, N.H., where it handles milk from other farms. And consider this: Sometime soon a portion of the milk used to make that organic yogurt may be taken from a chemical-free cow in New Zealand, powdered, and then shipped to the U.S. True, Stonyfield still cleaves to its organic heritage. For Chairman and CEO Gary Hirshberg, though, shipping milk powder 9,000 miles across the planet is the price you pay to conquer the supermarket dairy aisle. “It would be great to get all of our food within a 10-mile radius of our house,” he says. “But once you’re in organic, you have to source globally.”

It can cost consumers premiums of 50% or more to buy organic product, and the reality is the price you pay there may cost the planet an exorbitant amount as well. Check out Farmers’ Markets Canada for resources on finding local food in your area that are high in quality and low on “harvest to consumption time”.

Eat well and eat smart!


4 thoughts on “Common Misconceptions About Organic Food and Farms”

  1. Jessica,

    it is definitely somewhat unfortunate to know that there are organic misconceptions and one in which there isn’t some universal standards where we know we are getting the quality and freshness that we expect from our produce as well as an assurance that the foods are grown in a way which is beneficial to our environment and to the earth. I believe that such standardization would be helpful and that there should be a regulating body that would overlook this as there are for international political affairs (i.e. the UN) etc.

    Ideally, it would be great if we could get our food locally where the transportation to have it reach us doesn’t literally wipe out any environmental gains made through the organic process of growing it. Nevertheless, it is often tough to do so because some foods are grown in specific climates which may not be conducive to the one that we have here although it may be argued that we can have an indoor greenhouse which can produce similar affects and all we really need are the seeds to such items (i.e. tropical fruits etc). The big challenge which the organic industry will always face is the cost for produce due to not being able to have a yield equivalent to those used in other commercial practices which use sprays and what not to prevent bugs from eating chunks of the crop etc. Nevertheless, part of this problem can be resolved if our government stops subsidizing big agriculture and thinks about helping out the healthier options but at the very least stop giving to bigger businesses that don’t need the funding–this is simply corporate welfare which promotes potentially dangerous long term health risks that will inevitably have its costs.

    I guess all that we can really do is support our local grocers and look for the freshest food choices which are both environmentally healthy and good for our overall well being.


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