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CC-When is Organic Not Organic
The Session Overview below is provided as a courtesy to those who prefer to read than listen, yet on each call additional insights are given which round out the subject.
(Statistics drawn in part from Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma")
Organic food is an $11 billion industry.
When we think of "organic", we think of happy cows and chickens roaming free in pastures of green grass, crops lovingly tended by farmers who know how to work good humus into their soil and pay close attention to growing their crops "the natural way". We think of farmers that love what they do, and their love and passion for "good food grown right" can be tasted in every bite.
Amongst a growing number of small farmers and home gardeners, this image remains true.
But a short while back, something changed.
Big Agra took notice of the growing trend of people buying organic produce.
Organic food became regulated by the Dept. of Agriculture in the early 1990's.
Large food producers influenced the USDA to create loose, ambiguous laws that allowed them to produce "organic" food in virtually the same manner as conventionally grown food, with just a few minor modifications.
Due in part to these loose regulations, large food producers have seen the economic value to selling organic food, and have set about to purchase the biggest of the organic producers.
Cascadian Farms, one of the largest producers of organic produce, is now owned by General Mills.
Two big Agra organic growers, Earthbound Farms and Grimmway Farms, now supply over 80% of the organic lettuce sold in America.
Whole Foods, the largest natural chain store in America, can no longer support the local farmer, for obvious economic reasons, preferring to work with large distribution houses and large farm producers instead.
Entering a Whole Foods Market in LA last year, expecting to find a "safer than the restaurants" meal, I was shocked to discover that their deli on that day did not have a single "organic" ingredient listed among the dozens of foods on the menu.
While Whole Foods tries to present the image of "local", "free range", "pasture fed", "organic", and "conscientiously grown", very few of the big Agra products that it supplies to the public actually live up to the image.
Big Agra farm "organic" milk generally comes from factory feedlots where thousands of cows live in fenced yards eating “certified organic” grain, yet never actually get near a blade of grass.
"Ultra pasteurized milk", sold by big Agra companies like Horizon and Aurora, actually means "so dead that it will travel long distances without spoiling".
Rosie's Organic “Free Range” Chickens live out their lives in a shed with 20,000 other chickens. Access to grass, entitling Rosie to use the words "free range" on the label, actually takes place only during the last 2 weeks of the chicken's life prior slaughter. Even though the door is opened for them to "range" during their last 2 weeks, very few chickens actually dare to walk out that door, having never been outside before.
Big Agra growers will often place their "certified organic" acreage next door to their non-organic acres which receive the chemicals typical of conventional farming. Winds and overspray of chemicals on farms of this nature may account for the 25% of all organic produce that test positive for chemical residues.
Industrialized large organic food production is not sustainable. It takes between 7 & 10 calories of fossil fuel to deliver 1 calorie of food energy.
Big Agra organic food is hardly better nutritionally than conventional, yet the price is still higher.
Frequent tilling, a common practice in both conventional and large organic farming, destroys the worms and microbiology of the soil resulting in lower crop yields, more disease, and lower nutritional value in the foods. Tilling also brings buried seeds to the surface, increasing the weed problem and the need for more chemicals and tilling.
"Organic" processed food will often contain synthetic preservatives, emulsifiers & flow agents "allowed" by the FDA. Read the labels! If you cannot pronounce it, or don't know what it is - don't buy it.
"Microwavable Organic TV Dinners" and other "organic processed foods" require chemical preservatives and processing agents to be added. Big Agra lobbied, and the FDA approved, these chemicals in organic food - some of which do not even have listed on the label.
The only difference between artificial additives & “natural” additives is that the “natural” ones are FDA approved. Yet they are, for the most part, still chemicals.
Organic farmers often use Rotenone which is a potent neurotoxin that has long been used to kill fish and has been linked to Parkinson’s Disease.
Pyrethrin, a common organic pesticide, sometimes used the day of harvesting, can result in breathing difficulties when inhaled.
The need for pesticides, natural or otherwise, is a sign of poor crop health. Healthy plants grown on biologically-rich and mineral-rich soils generally do not attract insects or disease.
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