Organic food. It sounds so safe. So wholesome. So good for the environment. So good for our health. Doesn’t it?
At least until you realize that the Texas and Georgia peanut plants that were sending out salmonella riddled peanut butter also had federal organic certification.
It’s what happens when you put “organic” labeling in the hands of giant agribusinesses. They cut corners and fall through the regulatory cracks just like everybody else.
An article in The New York Times recently asked if Organic food was safer. Their answer? No. It’s just as likely to be contaminated as the conventional food supply.
And they’re right.
We ought to be asking a different set of questions altogether. Questions like why is our food supply so susceptible to contamination? Does scale have anything to do with it? Should we be opting for a more localized food economy?
Small farmers and backyard gardeners are directly accountable to people who eat the food they raise and grow. I can visit the ranch where the chickens that lay my eggs are raised, the dairy where my raw milk is collected, or the farm where my vegetables are grown. I can meet the animals, see how sanitary the conditions are, question the farmer about his practices.
If the quality of the vegetables, dairy, meat, or eggs suffer, I can take my business elsewhere. Not so with industrialized agriculture — even organic industrialized agriculture. They are protected from me by a shield of middlemen, buyers, sellers, co-ops, packagers, manufacturers, retail chains, and more.
Plus, if — heaven forbid — the products I buy from local sources are contaminated, the ripple effects will be considerably smaller. Rather than having 700 people fall prey to illness and 9 people die (as in the most recent peanut scare), only a handful of people will be affected and the source will be easy to track.
In this day and age, “organic” doesn’t mean as much as I would like it to. It doesn’t promise food that’s:
- locally grown
- humanely raised (animals on pasture, not in factories)
- whole and unrefined
- processed as little as possible
- nutrient-dense (enzymes, vitamins, minerals, probiotics)
- free of additives or preservatives
- traditionally produced or prepared
In other words, it doesn’t promise me Real Food. That’s why we need to move beyond organic and take back control of our food supply — one forkful at a time!
This post is part of today’s Fight Back Fridays blog carnival. To learn how to participate, or to discover more tantalizing tid bits from Real Food lovers around the web, check out the carnival.
(photo by Darwin Bell)