With the recession still going strong, frugal households all over the states are trying to cut corners wherever possible- and one of the first items to be snipped away is usually the food budget. Unfortunately, organically-farmed produce, though nutritionally superior, often carries a heavy price tag
“Where did you say you were from?”
Don’t assume that buying “organic” is always the best thing for the environment. Those organic kiwis, nestled in their soft Styrofoam wrappers, were most likely shipped all the way from New Zealand. So not only are they not “fresh from the farm,” but their very means of transportation contribute to pollution. Locally-grown produce trumps exotic organics every time.
One hundred percent organic…except for when it isn’t.
The U.S.D.A. recently revised their standards regarding the labeling of products as “100% organic.” Formerly, only items which contained exclusively organic ingredients were granted with the 100% certification; in reaction to protests from food manufacturers, the U.S.D.A. has made their qualifications more lenient- a list of 38 ingredients which do not require organic certification has been released, including such items as sausage casings, fish oils, hops and several starches.
It’s just not easy being green.
Increasingly more “green” farmers object to U.S.D.A. standards regarding organic certification; their claim that the U.S.D.A. regularly takes advantage of consumers by driving up the costs of organic certification is starting to catch the public’s attention. Farmers complain that it’s become more about putting money into the pockets of the U.S.D.A., and less about delivering an ecologically farmed product. “Too much red tape,” sighs one New York state farmer.
Read the fine print.
Some organic food manufacturers continue to thrive, despite the high price tag; forty percent of all baby food sold in the U.K. is organic. Nevertheless, concerned shoppers should make a point of reading food labels, even when purchasing staple items. Case in point: the makers of Silk brand soy milk, to cut down on costs, switched to non-organic ingredients- without notifying their faithful consumers.
Still a cut above the rest…
There’s nothing backwards about organic farming- breakthroughs in organic farming include new scientifically-tested methods for eliminating pests and improving the richness of the soil. U.C. Davis researchers claim that organically farmed crops are superior to crops which have been treated with commercial pesticide in that they deliver hardier, more resilient specimens and greater quantity. In March 2008, the Organic Center, reporting on a compilation of over 100 scientific studies, concluded that organic food is “nutritionally superior” and richer in antioxidants than conventionally grown produce.