I get asked this question all the time, in one form or another.
“Are you Organic?”
“Oh, I’m looking for Organic.”
Or my personal favorite, “I don’t need your (insert product here.) I buy Organic from Whole Foods.”
If the customer is wanting to learn, I try to educate them. If they have their mind made up, I smile and move on. I already have a flat head from beating it against a wall on completely unrelated topics. No sense making it any flatter on this one.
Thanks to a customer of ours who forwarded along this lengthy Washington Post article on Organic milk and why it’s not what you think it is.
Basically, a mega player in the Organic milk industry has products, that when tested, are pretty much the same as milk from a conventional dairy. Turns out their Organic milk is anything but what you think it is. Read all about it at the link.
There are a few takeaways from this article.
One, you can tell what the animal ate from its output. It’s measurable. So what you eat, or what your animal eats, matters. It MATTERS. If you are still telling yourself it makes no difference and all farm products are the same, you are wrong.
Two, the farmer has already been cited with some serious violations but by working through the red tape, has satisfied the regulators that all is now good. So basically, if you can dot all the Is and cross all the Ts, then what difference do the actual results make? The answer based on this story? Not one bit of difference. Your government at work.
Three. Buying Organic is no guarantee of getting what you expect. And the larger the store, the larger the chain, the larger the farmer, the less chance you have of getting a wholesome product. You cannot go to BJs and get the same meat, which is Organic, and costs $1 less per pound than mine, and think you are making a good decision for your health. Yes that is a blanket statement. Yes there are exceptions, but as a rule, large corporate interests are going to drive prices down, which leads to cutting corners and as this article points out, the Organic standard has plenty of corners to cut. The larger the player, the better able they are to “optimize production” which is another term for cutting corners.
Four. Farmers are not to blame. Farmers are growing what the market demands. More. Faster. Cheaper. All season production. When we expect to get strawberries in January, Organic strawberries no less, what do we expect the farmer to do. And when we expect them at Costco, in bulk, with bulk pricing, 12 months per year, of course the farmers will do something that suspiciously doesn’t look like the picture on the label.
So what is your takeaway from all this? The same as before. If you want to know what you are eating, then get to know your farmer. Go see their operation. Meet their family, and then make your own judgement for what you’ll eat. There really is no other reliable way to know.