Organic Food is Like, Organic, Right?


Remember Store Wars, the dramatic battle between the organic forces of good and the dark side, Darth Tater and the forces of industrialized agriculture? The dark side is back, and this time they are infiltrating, co-opting and corrupting from within.

The New York Times adds coverage to a story John broke here last month: It seems that to get approval as organic, Department of Agriculture rules state that 95% of a product must be organic and the balance need not be if there is no organic ingredients available, as long as they are on their approved list. Modest little organic breweries like Anheuser-Busch can't find organic hops with " unique flavor and aroma characteristics due to variation in essential oils" for their fine organic brews and wants an exemption. Others are appalled. "Hops are a crucial ingredient for beer. Why can't they use organic hops?" said James A. Riddle, an organic consultant and a former chairman of the organic advisory board.

According to the New York Times, purists say that this list of ingredients is the latest example of big business trying to water down organic standards in an effort to cash in on the increased demand for organic products. They argue that allowing the nonorganic ingredients will weaken the integrity of the organic label.

"More than 90 percent of the food/agricultural items on the proposed list of materials in this rule are items that can easily be grown organically," said Merrill A. Clark, an organic farmer from Michigan and a former member of the organic advisory board, in comments to the Agriculture Department.

She said that allowing such nonorganic ingredients are "totally unhealthy for the organic industry down the road," and are "opening the organic rules to ridicule and unflattering public exposure." ::New York Times

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