Organic vs. “organic”

Beth, a member of the Sparta CSA group, sent me an e-mail today with a link to a pretty disturbing story. The Washington Post details, at great length, how the surging demand for organic food in America has been accompanied by a weakening of federal standards over the use of the “organic” label.

The result? Synthetic additives in 90% of all organic baby formula, additives that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had decided just three years ago violated federal standards. Or how about wood starch in grated organic cheese? Yum.  Want more? Dean Foods, the largest organic food brand in the U.S. and the business behind Horizon organic milk, is undercutting its own brand with a new line of “natural” products.

Beth said in the note that she hopes USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will get things under control. I hope so too. But while we wait for Washington to act, there is something that every consumer can do: Get to know a certified organic farm and its farmer, and become an active participant in the integrity of your organic food by joining a CSA.

To those of you who already have, my thanks.


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