How organic is your food? Over the past couple of years, the organic food craze has grown. Shopping at Whole Foods not only became the “it” thing, but it also became a statement saying, “Why yes I am healthy, I eat organic.” Countless times I have picked up People magazine to quickly look at the Star Tracks section, and have stumbled across a picture of a celebrity carrying a Whole Foods bag. Organic food shopping became something chic. But, how organic is the food being purchased? The article, “Has ‘Organic’ Been Oversized?” from the New York Times brings light to this question.
Just like many other niche markets, when the organic industry became lucrative, large companies wanted in. The majority of the nation’s small organic food companies are now owned by large corporations such as Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kraft and M&M Mars. Bear Naked, Wholesome & Healthy and Kashi, are owned by Kellogg. Naked Juice is a product of Pepsi co. So do you still believe that the ingredients used by the large companies in mass production of organic foods and products are home grown and fresh?
Michael J. Potter, owner of Eden Foods, and organic wholesaler, has spoken to officials about the issue of falsely labeling a product as organic. Over the years, more and more non-organic substances have been approved to be in products labeled as organic. The seats governing the board that controls the list containing non-organic substances approved in “certified organic” foods, has grown more and more corporate. As the corporate presence has increased, so has the amount of acceptable non-organic substances, jumping from 77 in 2002 to now more than 250. To me, this screams conflict of interest. As a consumer, I like to believe that I am getting what I paid for. If I pay extra for organic, I would like to receive organic products. Unfortunately, as the industry continues to be dominated by larger non-organic corporations, the idea of purity that I have long associated with the word organic has become muddier.