Organic vs. Kind of Organic vs. Wait, I’m Confused.

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you’ve probably noticed that “organics” has been the fasting growing market in our food system for quite some time. So much in fact, that even the big boys such as Target (or Targe` for those who are walking bags of douche and can’t pronounce it correctly) and Wal-Mart (aka not Target) have welcomed the trend with open arms; recognizing that the public, to a vast degree, is starting to demand higher quality food. As such, walk into either store and you’ll undoubtedly come across an “organic” section. Granted, by walking into said establishments, a little piece of your soul will die, but it’s nice to see nonetheless.

Understandably, whether or not organic food is nutritionally superior to “conventional” food is a highly debatable premise. However, given the recent trend of movies such as Food, Inc, as well as a multitude of books/articles/smackdowns from the likes of Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, and company, it’s getting increasing more arduous, at least in my eyes, to not only deny the fact that our food quality bites the big one, but that the typical cheap, Western diet (refined sugar, flour, less fruits and veggies, I heart twinkies) that Americans have been ingesting for the past several decades is the culprit of many of the issues affecting our health, and the planet’s as well.

To illustrate my point more succinctly, here’s a snidbit from an article titled Organics-Healthy Food, And So Much More, written by Gary Hirshberg:

All of humanity ate organic food until the early part of the twentieth century, yet we’ve been on a chemical binge diet for about eighty years- an eye blink in the planetary history- and what do we have to show for it? We’ve lost one-third of America’s original topsoil; buried toxic waste everywhere; and polluted and depleted water systems, worsened global warming, and exacerbated ailments ranging from cancer to diabetes to obesity.

Pretty cut and dry if you ask me.

Nevertheless, this isn’t to say that just because something says it’s organic, that it’s inherently better, or better for us. Leigh Peele actually touched on this topic in episode 11 of her podcast (she discusses her thoughts on Food, Inc), and I commend her for her honesty and matter-of-factness going against the grain.

As with anything, once corporate America gets it’s dirty paws on it, the water gets murky. Take for example the fact that it wasn’t until 2002 that Congress passed a federal law mandating that the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create a single set of nationwide standards. As a result, we now have three levels of organic food. You didn’t really think it was as simple as something being organic or not organic did you?

100% Organic– is exactly what it states, and refers to food and fibers that are indeed produced organically at every step, from farm to store shelf.

Organic– requires that at least 95% of the product’s ingredients are organic, with the remaining five percent strictly limited to ingredients on USDA’s National List of Allowable and Prohibited Materials. Question- can we add Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt to that prohibited materials list? Jesus, if any two people deserve to be thrown into a shark’s mouth, it’s these two.

Made with Organics– means that at least 70% of the product’s ingredients are organic. The other 30%? I have no idea.

In short, read labels! Just because something says it’s “organic” doesn’t mean that’s the case. Mostly.

UPDATE: Shazam! That’s five in five days. Who’s going to Ponderosa tonight? Me, that’s who.

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