20 years after the popularization of the “organic certification”, the debate is still raging about whether or not the price point pays off for your health. You know seeing the USDA Certified Organic label means you’re not ingesting pesticides with your daily serving – but is that enough information for the food-conscious consumer?
What keeps many of us from a full organic diet is simply the cost. As reported in 14 Facts The Organic Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know, due to initially heightened farming practices, corporations selling organic fare were given the opportunity to set their own market rates. Without regulation to control the price of organics and make higher quality food available to everyone, “Big Organic” took hold of the market and took home big profit – making better food available only to those with the cash.
Health of the Food System
Big “Org” has been criticized for using practices unhealthy for the food system itself. The certificate verifies that the food you are buying has been produced on a farm producing less per acre than a conventional farm. The increased popularity of organic foods may lead to more large organic farms, with a higher use of fossil fuels and other resources.
And even when you are picking up a bundle of organic carrots grown in California and shipped to New Jersey, there’s 100 more bundles of food waste that didn’t make it on the trip across the country. Being grown without preservatives and shipped without waxing means the shelf life of organic products is limited.
So, even though the food may be better for you, it is worse for the environment.
Rights of Farm Workers
Farming organically requires more time on the part of the farmer. Soil must be cultivated, crops tended and weeds managed. It is more labor intensive than conventional farming, and the farmer may not be able to tend as much land as he could with industrialized farming approaches.
And even when these organic practices are followed – USDA organic certification is beyond reach for many small-scale farmers. With the certification itself costing often upward of $1500, farmers additional must pay annually inspections, assessments, and travel costs for an USDA certifying agent.
For small scale operations offering locally produced foods, free of pesticides and in line with seasonal foods – organic simply isn’t viable.
While local farmers often don’t carry the title, their produce requires less preservatives and chemicals because it will not be shipped thousands of miles. And you can always inquire with the farmer about their farming practices. Opt for farmer’s markets and always dig deeper into the information provided.