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:
- Regulations for organic farming may differ and/or can’t be easily monitored, and
- 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!