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Is Organic Worth The Cost – From the Archives

August 4, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOrganic food has become a premium marketing term. There are claims it is better for the environment but this is not necessarily true. Farming practices can vary widely and the “organic” label is not necessarily worth the extra cost. For many it is illegal to market their goods as organic if they are not certified, and there may be a host of reasons they don’t want to certify. Indeed those of us not certified due to cost are excluded from much, but if folks won’t pay for it then it’s tough to jump hoops.

An example is Farmer Smith who is certified organic. He follows the codes and requirements to the letter, with any chemicals used according to what is allowed. Farmer Jones on the other hand isn’t organic because he grows for his own use and sells what may be produced over it. He doesn’t use chemicals on his gardens and only the bare minimum if an animal gets sick because good animals are hard to come by. The lack of certification would make some assume that Farmer Jones has inferior food produced which is completely wrong. Indeed it may well be the same quality of food as Farmer Smith’s but without the “organic” label or specialty store pricing.

In my article on Food Safety Vs Food Choices I explored the problems in defining food and agriculture. We have people saying organic meats are often raised the same as “conventional” (although few have been able to define what is “conventional”) but there is the issue in definition! Much legislation does not include that the animals must be pastured, only that they eat feed that is organic. For many operations the best way to insure that is to carry everything to them – confinement and feeding organic hay, forage and grains.

When it comes to chemical use there are hundreds of sites that claim that farmers are the cause of contamination in ground water supplies. Statically it is proven that urban dwellers have a much higher level of herbicide and pesticide use than the rural areas. Additionally farmers have an understanding of conservation, soil types and characteristics and other factors that many urban dwellers do not.

Compost, and what is and is not allowed, is also a sticking point. Indeed just recently the Center for Food Safety announced opposition to the use of sludge compost in San Francisco. Yet on the other coast the White House garden is toted as organic despite others saying due to sludge being used it can NEVER be “organic”.

For myself and my home, healthy food that is processed with an eye to safety is much more important than labels.

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