What do you need to know about organic farming and organic food? Truly, eating genuine food is a journey. At times, it seems like it would be simpler to simply wrap a blanket across our eyes and refrain from asking as many questions. But what keeps us on this quest is understanding why we behave the way we do. It aids us in maintaining our excellent, wise decisions about the meals we purchase and the money we spend.
Many people misunderstand what “organic” actually means; some believe it to indicate natural, pesticide-free, and local. Others interpret it to imply highly qualified certified.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s definition of organic, which we will use, is as follows:
The term “organic” on food and other agricultural product labels designates procedures that have been recognized for fostering resource cycling, promoting ecological balance, and preserving biodiversity. These approaches incorporate cultural, biological, and mechanical processes. Genetic engineering, irradiation, sewage sludge, and synthetic fertilizers are prohibited.
13 Facts To Know About Organic Farming and Organic Food
Let’s find some interesting facts about organic farming and organic food:
1. There are 43 synthetic, non-organic components that may be used in or on processed goods that have the “organic” label.
But this time, we’re discussing artificial chemicals like ethylene and cellulose.
To prevent it from clumping, cellulose is most frequently seen in containers of shredded cheese. The more euphemistic term for wood pulp is cellulose.
In nature, the hormone ethylene, which is found in plants, causes the fruit to ripen. Fruits are, however, gathered early in agriculture so they may be delivered to far locations without spoiling before arrival. When the fruits arrive, a synthetic version of ethylene is sprayed on them to make them seem ripe on the shop shelf.
2. The National Organic Program (NOP) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) do not certify or inspect businesses or goods for certification.
The NOP is managed overall by the USDA.
The NOP develops the guidelines and rules that certifying organizations must adhere to while doing certifications.
The daily operations of the organic certification process are not specifically under the control of the USDA or the NOP. They are only the managers in charge of making sure the organic certification is operating as intended… in the United States. Other nations’ organic food is not under the supervision or jurisdiction of the USDA or the NOP.
3. There are just 27 workers working for the NOP, despite the fact that the annual sales of organic food are close to $27 billion.
The daily activities of the organic industry are unrelated to the NOP. They are in charge of establishing the rules and making sure they are followed. and managing grievances and disputes brought on by rules violations. However, the NOP lacks the manpower to deal with these problems.
The NOP is constrained to function as a reactive organization for the organic business rather than a proactive one since there is only one employee for every $1 billion in annual sales.
4. Organic farming is authorized to use pesticides.
Pesticides are sometimes implied to be unnecessary by proponents of organic farming; if this were the case, the Organic Materials Review Institute wouldn’t need to mention the additional 40 pesticides that are permitted in organic cultivation.
Those who purchase organic goods in an effort to avoid hazardous pesticides will be greatly surprised by this. The more than 40 pesticides on the “authorized” list have all been individually examined and given the go-ahead to be used, but they are nevertheless pesticides. There is no assurance that they are any safer than other pesticides because they have been created to do the same function.
5. A third party is frequently hired to perform the actual certification to become organic as well as follow-up inspections of businesses that have received this certification.
The major organic certification bodies typically don’t have offices in remote regions, nor do they have the resources to send representatives to certify and/or examine products there. As a result, these activities are frequently delegated to another outside organization.
If you’re still with me, let me give you an illustration of how distant the farm may be from your fork:
QAI is certified by USDA/NOP, which is paid by QAI.
Muir Glen is recognized as an organic tomato processing facility by QAI (Muir Glen pays QAI)
The distant tomato farm’s organic certification is outsourced by QAI to a third party, which is paid for by the tomato farm and reimbursed by USDA/NOP.
The local grocery shop does not know the true origin of the organic tomatoes it purchases from Muir Glen (and to be honest, Muir Glen might not know either).
6. Cross-contamination between conventional and organic versions of the same food is possible.
Avocados are farmed in Mexico in both organic and traditional ways. These avocados were probably harvested from farms close by and processed there. Every step taken away from the farm raises the potential of cross-contamination between conventional and organic avocados as well as any other food product. the farm itself, transportation to a factory, during processing, packaging, transportation, and shelf stocking.
Because the NOP does not specify the distance between organic and conventional fields (it just states that the distance must be “adequate to avoid contamination”), conventional and organic foods might grow side by side with no disruption.
The danger might be considerably higher depending on how well each farmer, processor, and shipper observes the regulations for organic in their respective nation. In some instances, organic food products have been contaminated with their conventional counterparts, according to a database maintained by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention.
Once the container is filled, the avocados will be marked as organic from the consumer’s perspective. We can’t really tell because it’s impossible to determine an avocado’s organic or conventional status based only on appearance.
7. The business or brand that wants to be certified as organic pays the accrediting organization.
The accrediting organization provides annual re-certifications of being organic in addition to the initial certification.
In order to put this into perspective, it would be comparable to paying a police officer to assist you after they react to a 911 call, paying the cop as they patrol the neighborhood, or paying the officer after they have arrested you.
Even if the majority of businesses are trustworthy, this structure undoubtedly raises a conflict of interest. It is simple to get and counterfeit false certifications, as well as covert payments for signatures and accreditation.
8. In organic farming, certain “natural” substances are carcinogenic.
Natural chemicals (like organic insecticides) weren’t given much thought up until recently because it was thought that they didn’t pose a concern. However, once the research was completed, it was discovered that around 50% of the natural compounds were also cancerous.
Very little attention has been paid to evaluating the chemicals used in organic farming to determine whether or not they are truly safe because the organic business has long been considered “safer” than conventional. It turns out that several of the permitted compounds have the same potential for harm as some of the more often used, “hazardous” chemicals in traditional farming.
For families like mine, who purchase organic goods to get away from dangerous chemicals, this effectively amounts to money wasted. In reality, since the “natural” substances haven’t been adequately evaluated, we could be doing more damage than good.
9. A food item can be called “organic” even if only 95% of it is organic.
There are modest gaps that enable items like sausage casings even if the remaining 5% is intended to come from a list of permitted components. even if the sausage has an organic label.
It’s also important to keep in mind that some of the ingredients permitted in organic meals aren’t even edible. Take the artificial chemicals used to sterilize washing machines.
10. Two of the top three organic certification organizations are for-profit businesses. There is only one non-profit organization.
The main organization for certifying organic foods is Quality Assurance International (QAI), which operates for profit. A for-profit organization is California Certified Organic Farmers.
Oregon Tilth was started as a non-profit organization and is still one today.
Being compensated by the entities they certify should be even more troubling given that the certifying organizations are businesses looking to acquire and retain profit.
11. In order to provide the same level of protection, organic pesticides may need to be applied more often than synthetic pesticides.
In a recent study, the efficiency of a rotenone-pyrethrin combination and an artificial pesticide called imidan were examined. In contrast to imidan, which is regarded as a “soft” synthetic pesticide, rotenone and pyrethrin are two popular organic pesticides (i.e., designed to have a brief lifetime after application, and other traits that minimize unwanted effects). The amount of protection offered by 2 applications of imidan was found to need up to 7 applications of the rotenone-pyrethrin combination.
We now observe that farmers are using more organic pesticides since they are less effective than the chemicals used in conventional farming, which builds on the fact that many of them have not been safety evaluated.
I’m not sure whether is riskier: taking more chemicals than have been well evaluated for safety, or fewer chemicals than have been thoroughly tested for safety.
12. When an ingredient is not commercially accessible in an organic form, over 45 non-organically produced substances may be used in or on processed goods with the “organic” label.
Basically, an organic processing company can utilize the conventional form of an ingredient if they claim that the organic version isn’t currently accessible.
This list includes soy lecithin, a byproduct of the production of soybean oil. Also on the list is cornstarch, which is made from corn, 88% of which was genetically engineered as of 2011.
13. It is possible to “water down” organic food.
Let’s say we’re working with an almond producer that produces both conventional and organic almonds. The processor receives the harvested almonds from the producer and shells, hulls, and pasteurizes them.
To increase the output of “organic” almonds, conventional almonds may be purposely or accidentally combined with organic ones. Even though it is against NOP guidelines, this still occurs.
Each year, the NOP gets roughly 200 reports of fraud. One of the more recent instances in the United States is Harold Chase’s marketing of regular corn as organic corn.
35 synthetic, non-organic components may not be used in or on processed goods designated as “organic.” How frequently do you read the ingredients on the labels of the organic foods you purchase? If so, when? Or do you simply believe the organic label and feel more confident in your purchases?
Carrageenan is an element that acts as an emulsifier to give foods their creamy consistency. It is also a chemical that is used to test anti-inflammatory medications because it is so well recognized for inducing inflammation.
Due to its inclusion on the list of authorized non-organic ingredients permitted to be present in foods labeled as organic, you may frequently find this in products like coconut milk and almond milk, both conventional and organic.
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