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The Decay Of Organic Foods


By Nurse Mark

Is it or is it ?

It is no secret that "Organic" foods are a big deal these days, with more and more consumers questioning the safety of all the various chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, genetic tinkering, and whatnot that is going on in Big AgriBiz and the tainting of foods by Big Industry in search of higher profits.

Big AgriBiz and Big FoodBiz are fully aware of the demand, and therefore the potential profit in this emerging market and are eager to move in and take over. No longer will this be the niche market of small farmers and local producers.

There have been organic "Standards" in place for some time that regulate what can and cannot be done to a food or food product that is labeled "Organic" and this is a good thing or there would be many more retailers following the lead of WalMart who was "busted" by Wisconsin Department of Agriculture investigators recently for mislabeling (and then overpricing to match) non-organic products as "Organic." How is even a savvy and well-informed consumer to know?

We can only rely on the USDA and their "standards" for "Organic Certification".

Or can we?

It seems that these standards are a little too hard to meet in many cases, and according to the USDA many manufacturers have been "misinterpreting" the rules, using a loophole to  "fudge" and include non-organic ingredients in their products.

In response to this, the USDA is not proposing to tighten up on those manufacturers that have been using non-organic ingredients. No, in response to industry pressure, the mighty USDA is simply proposing to "dumb down" the rules so that they are easier (and cheaper) for Big AgriBiz and Big FoodBiz to meet!

Essentially what the USDA is saying is that if something is "insufficiently available" in organic form then a non-organic substitute can be used. The USDA has added some 38 non-organic ingredients to the list of things that can be used and still have the product labeled as "Organic."

These ingredients include:

Colors from: (These are usually listed as "Natural Colors")
  • annatto,
  • beet juice,
  • beta-carotene,
  • black currant juice,
  • black/purple carrot juice,
  • blueberry juice, carrot juice,
  • cherry juice,
  • chokeberry-aronia juice,
  • elderberry juice,
  • grape juice,
  • grape skin extract,
  • paprika,
  • pumpkin juice,
  • purple potato juice,
  • red cabbage extract,
  • red radish extract,
  • saffron,
  • turmeric.

Other ingredients include:
  • casings from processed intestines (used in the manufacture of sausages)
  • celery powder (used to facilitate the natural curing process of meat)
  • chia (used to add fiber and omega-3 to baked goods and beverages)
  • dillweed oil
  • fish oil
  • fructooligosaccharides
  • frozen galangal
  • gelatin
  • water extracted Arabic
  • guar
  • locust bean and carob bean gums,
  • hops ("Organic" beer is an up-and-coming market for the huge Brewing Conglomerate Anheuser-Busch)
  • oligofructose enriched inulin
  • kelp for use only as a thickener and dietary supplement
  • konjac flour
  • unbleached lecithin
  • frozen lemongrass
  • unbleached orange shellac
  • pectin
  • chipotle chile pepper
  • cornstarch
  • unmodified rice starch
  • sweet potato starch
  • Turkish bay leaves
  • Wakame seaweed
  • whey protein concentrate.

Now, to be sure, many of these ingredients are quite natural, even good and desirable. The concern is that with Big Industry able to use the flimsiest of excuses ("XYZ ingredient is difficult to find organic, and when we did find it we couldn't cut a sufficiently profitable deal to buy it") to substitute non-organic ingredients without having to reflect that on the labeling we could find ourselves presented with products containing fish oil from farmed and antibiotic-laden fish to boost Omega-3 ratings, meat products with casings (intestines) or gelatin from growth hormone enhanced livestock, products containing cornstarch derived from GMO corn, even beer brewed using pesticide-laden hops - and all still able to boast their "USDA Organic" logo.

What can you do about this? Not much I'm afraid! The USDA announced their intention to make these changes and "allowed" just 7 days for input and public comment. That comment period is now closed, and we can expect the USDA to plow ahead with this gift to Big Business. This decaying of the standards for "Organic" will ensure that the USDA's logo is nothing more than a hollow marketing gimmick for the Big Food and AgriBiz industries. There will be no way to know if a product is truly organic or not - unless you personally know the grower or producer and know where their ingredients come from.

All this means that we really must make every attempt to "buy local" and support local farmers and businesses who will assure us that their foods and products really do meet "Organic" standards. Local grass-fed beef, local free range chicken and eggs, garden-grown vegetables and fruits are all available, even to those living in the most urban of environments - if you will just take the time to find them. They will be healthier, tastier, and often less expensive than the bland and chemically-enhanced offerings of Big Industry.


National Organic Program (NOP)--Proposed Amendments to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (Processing)

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