Is “Certified Organic” Label a Fraud?

The New York Times features a nice article titled, “Has ‘Organic’ Been Oversized.” It dispels the myth that organic foods are still mainly produced by small and independent companies, noting that “organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store.”   It then raises the concern of whether “Big Food” is unduly influencing the meaning of “organic” through its presence on the National Organic Standards Board, which has increased the number of nonorganic materials approved for organic foods.

Initially, this list “was largely made up of things like baking soda, which is nonorganic but essential to making things like organic bread,” but “[t]oday, more than 250 nonorganic substances are on the list, up from 77 in 2002.”  Accordingly, Michael Potter, a founder of organic food producer Eden Foods, “calls the certified-organic label a fraud and refuses to put it on Eden’s products.”  On the other hand:

Kathleen Merrigan, a deputy secretary of agriculture, disputes that corporate interests are behind the increase in nonorganic materials deemed acceptable in “organic” food.  “The list is really very small,” says Ms. Merrigan.  “It’s really very simplistic and headline-grabbing to throw out those sorts of critiques, but when you get down into the details, there are usually very rational and important reasons for the actions the board has taken.”

See the full article here.

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