Staff Editorial: Organic food not always the cream of the crop
During the past years organic food products – products produced without conventional chemical additives – have grown from occupying obscure shelf space to constituting a considerable niche.
Not all organic products, though, are as environmentally clean as a consumer might assume. Consumers favoring environmental sustainability should demand stricter standards for organic foods or they should seek different avenues for acquiring their next meal.
Many large-scale retailers have increasingly relied on China for organic imports – such as livestock feed, soybeans and other produce – to compensate for shortages occurring stateside. China, however, lacks the same organic standards as the U.S., and studies have found chemical contaminants in imports, BusinessWeek reported.
To further complicate matters, the U.S. government doesn’t require inspection to confirm the imported products’ organic traits, nor do they mandate that the organic component’s origins be listed on the product.
Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that shipping products over a vast distance not only increases the chance of it being tainted by exposure, but can sometimes create enough carbon emissions to negate any benefit gleaned from purchasing the organic product.
Many consumers have the best intentions when food is concerned, but sometimes a trip to the local farmer’s market can be the safest bet in an industry filled with uncertainties.