Beyond the “Organic” Label

Organic junk food is still junk food. Flying in organic salmon from Chile does nothing to reduce the size of our carbon footprint. And, most importantly (for me), the USDA’s organic certification does nothing to ensure that animals are treated humanely and permitted to exercise normal behavior patterns. For example, “organically” raised animals in the US must have access to the outdoors, which could be, and often is, a small door in the side of a great broiler barn that leads to a 100-square-foot concrete yard.

Here is an article from the NY Times that is a must read for those who are trying to eat better but perhaps are unaware of the fact that food labeled organic is not necessarily better for you. -Tree

Eating Food That’s Better for You, Organic or Not
by Marc Bittman

March 21, 2009

In the six-and-one-half years since the federal government began certifying food as “organic,” Americans have taken to the idea with considerable enthusiasm. Sales have at least doubled, and three-quarters of the nation’s grocery stores now carry at least some organic food. A Harris poll in October 2007 found that about 30 percent of Americans buy organic food at least on occasion, and most think it is safer, better for the environment and healthier.

So I discovered on a recent book tour around the United States and Canada.

No matter how carefully I avoided using the word “organic” when I spoke to groups of food enthusiasts about how to eat better, someone in the audience would inevitably ask, “What if I can’t afford to buy organic food?” It seems to have become the magic cure-all, synonymous with eating well, healthfully, sanely, even ethically.

But eating “organic” offers no guarantee of any of that. And the truth is that most Americans eat so badly — we get 7 percent of our calories from soft drinks, more than we do from vegetables; the top food group by caloric intake is “sweets”; and one-third of nation’s adults are now obese — that the organic question is a secondary one. It’s not unimportant, but it’s not the primary issue in the way Americans eat.

Read the rest of the article here.

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