I’m Anti-Organic

Oh yeah, I said it.  And it’s true.  Hardly any of the food we eat is organic.  Here are the top 5 reasons why:

#5- Organic does not mean “small family farm,” though big agriculture tends to want us to think that.  Many organics are what can be considered industrial agriculture, grown in monoculture, and take quite a bit of fossil fuels to grow. 

#4- Organic does not mean “whole food” or even “fresh food.”  Many organics are highly processed, including organic cookies, chips, sodas, frozen dinners and mixes.  It’s still convenience food, which is fine in a pinch, but also higher calories and in more packaging.

#3 Organics are regulated by the USDA.  And I should trust the good folks at the USDA because? But seriously, the organic label is a pain in the neck to acquire, so many farms use organic practices without getting the label, and others do the bare minimum with a goal of getting more money, not helping out the environment.

#2 Organic does not mean “local” or “seasonal.”  Many organics are packaged in plastic and shipped long distances.  New Zealand organic apples, anyone? Fossil fuel usage, in addition to taking your dollars out of the local economy.

#1 Organic food can be elitist.  While healthy, whole food should be a basic human right, it’s simply not the case with organics.  Few people in this economy are willing or able to pay extra for organics when they can get essentially the same food for less money.

In my next post, I’ll talk about what I think really represents sustainable food.

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23 Comments

Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Sustainable Living

23 Responses to I’m Anti-Organic

  1. Jon

    Stop pushing your antiorganic agenda. I eat a strictly organic diet, and would die before I ate anything that wasnt labeled as such!!

  2. Cassy

    I totally agree! Coming from a small family farm it was hard enough to keep up with the “big corporations” let alone the push to go organic. I’m thankful that I’m blessed to be surrounded by small family farms & orchards that I can support and I don’t need a USDA label to tell me what is good and what isn’t ~ all I need to do is talk to the farmer. My beef, pork, chicken, eggs & raw milk come from local farmers who do not use hormones or antibiotics, they are free-roaming & grass-fed but they are not labeled “organic” because they cannot afford the cost that is involved to become an organic farm, besides the less regulation/government the better!

    Now granted I do buy “organic-labels” when shopping at the grocery store for canned goods & vegetables during the winter months when the farms are shut for the season, but you are right, I just recently have become more aware of the fuels involved in shipping ~ I never really thought about it much before.

    I think it wise that we support our local small farmers because without them I hate to see where we will end up!

  3. I find this a really interesting post. Because as I read through it, I realized that I totally agree. Not all the food in my house is organic, but it’s from within about a 60 mile radius from my house. I decided in the end that eating whole, locally raised food was better than the stuff with the pretty packaging.

    I was at a talk in the fall where the speaker was explaining how to shop for organic foods. While the talk was lovely, one thing she neglected to mention was the USDA approval process. The little farmers in our area can’t afford to be certified, so they aren’t. But they take the best care of their products. When in doubt, ask! Most likely, you’ll like what you hear… at least in my case anyway.

  4. I think you’re right; I know that the food hat I grow in my own garden is fresher, more wholesome, naturally grown and local…and even though it IS organic, it isn’t labelled as such because I’m a gardener, not a certified organic farm. the same goes for so many local farmers. It’s good, clean, local food, natural and humanely raised (if animal products are involved), but produced on a scale that doesn’t support being certified organic. If you know your farmer, you’ll know your food; support them, and you’re supporting the freshest and potentially cleanest food source available to you. That’s why “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” makes so much sense…..

  5. Alison

    I think you make a good point in regards to what organic can mean. It is not always good (big business) and it I’d not always healthy (cookies, chips, etc.). But from what I’ve read of you posts and your above points might it be better to say that you are anti-mass organic labeling? And FOR everyone eating more fresh from scratch food that is wherever possible both local and not dependent on toxic or poisonous or petroleum based chemicals?

    Personally, I am pro-organic, but I also use weigh the pros and cons of price vs local vs imported vs family farm and so on.

  6. Alisa

    Great post! Organic does not always equal better!

  7. Of course it’s true that a label boasting ‘Organic’ does not automatically mean healthy or local. As you mentioned, there are many sodas and cookies made with organic ingredients, and plenty of organic produce shipped long distances.

    Just another reason to be extra-aware and discriminating when buying food for your home.

    I personally find the statement ‘I am anti-organic’ very negative and contra-productive. There are many criteria that I prefer in the food I buy: local, fresh, seasonal, and yes, organic. Some of the farmers who sell their produce at the local farmer’s market grow organic fruit and veg but don’t have the seal because, as you mentioned, it’s alot of work getting that ‘organic’ official guarantee. I buy their produce gladly. But I also buy organic bananas, mangos, oranges, grapefruits, and avocados, which don’t grow here in Austria. I don’t buy them all the time, but I also don’t want to give those delicious, nutritious foods.

    Some organic products I have moved away from are beef, butter and dairy. I now look for these products from grass-fed cows, because in these cases, organic would mean the cows are fed organic grain, which is not what cows are supposed to eat, and is not what they thrive on.

    I can read between the lines and see what you are trying to say: that an ‘organic’ label does not always mean most healthy or sustainable. And I am aware that huge manufacturers are taking advantage of people’s naivity to make big bucks. But ‘anti-organic’ seems a very harsh and loaded term.

  8. Bravo! Thumbs up! Pat on back!

    So I like it a little. ;)

  9. I love Joel Salatin’s signature phrase, “Beyond Organic”. I think that says it so appropriately and positively.

    Whenever possible, local IS the best option. Knowing who raised our food and being able to trust the individual to act in the best interest of our world and our ecosystem is very important. When that is not possible, I make other choices. Many times that does include purchasing organic, but always armed with knowledge, wisdom, and common sense. It’s a real dilema trying to decide of toxic pesticides on my apples going directly into my body and that of my children is worse (not to mention feeding the Monsanto beast), or if greenhouse gases from fossil fuels used in shipping an organic apple is worse (feeding the big oil beast). Hopefully there will come a time when I don’t have to make that choice. However, even locally grown has its fossil fuel secret as water for the plants is usually tied to a fossil fuel somehow.

    Moderation and common sense are the keys. Absolutes often end up backfiring.

  10. I’m not anti-organic, but I do know my organic companies. I don’t buy organic convenience foods, and I don’t buy from Organic Companies who are really the big companies I already don’t trust.
    Here in the North East is NOFA which is a better standard than the USDA whose sole focus is big industrial farms. I shop local and organic. I don’t seek organic certification and I don’t accept organic certification as the be all end all.
    My beef is local pasture raised, with a promise from the owners (who I see every Sat) that they do not use hormones and that the winter feed is orgnically grown if not certified.

    I buy my milk from a local guy (who I see every saturday) whose cows are gauranteed to be Hormone free, pasture fed (on clean pastures) and fed organically raised feed in the winter (although not certified). I also get my butter, yogurt and eggs from this same guy.

    Before I buy anything (and I shop at the public market first and my co-op second) I ask where the farm is, if they hesitate or don’t know I simply move on. Then I ask how things are grown. If they are excited and tell me how they grow everything and their practices (while most are not certified organic, the ones I buy from use organic practices) then I buy from them.

    Organic is not the be all end all. But if a local small farm is using natural or organic practices and another local small farm is not then I support the organic or sustainable local small farm.

    Just because someone touts organic doesn’t assure me. For example. One week my milk guy wasn’t there so I had to get my eggs elsewhere (I can get his milk and butter at my co-op). So I walked around and looked at the eggs. One woman had a bright colorful sign that her eggs where cage free, hormone free and organic. I walked up and asked if all the eggs were organic (she had white shells and I am always suspect of them) and she very rudely said “Did I waste my money on that sign?” and I told her yes. Because the majority of people like me buying local organic want to talk to the people selling the goods and find out if we trust them. I didn’t trust this woman, she was to punchy about her sign. So I walked on and found another woman who was happy to tell me all about her hens, their food and her organic local baked goods. She has the best cinamon rolls I have ever had organic or otherwise.

    1. Organic Local First (always small farms, I don’t trust the big farms)
    2. Local
    3. Organic

    When I am done at the public market I head over to my co-op where all the local items are labeled with an L and organic is clearly marked.

    What I would most like to see is the Organic label removed and replaced with natural and sustainable practices used in the planting, harvesting etc of this product.

  11. bonniejean

    Why the “anti?” I agree with most everything you said, but I wouldn’t label myself “anti-organic.” Because a lot of what you describe IS organic. The eggs from my neighbor’s yard? Organic. Beef from my mother-in-laws farm? Organic. Vegetables grown in my friend’s garden? Organic. None of these items are labeled as such by the usda, but they in fact are organic – food grown without synthetic pesticides or hormones. I choose local over certified organic every time, but I always appreciate when people take the time to created and grow food that doesn’t contain extra chemicals.

  12. I’ll buy fruits and vegetables at a farmers market, but I wont buy organic in a grocery store. I don’t even know what the guidlines are for something to be organic. I suspect many of the items are not as organic as we are led to believe.
    In some ways, Organic is the new Low Carb or Omega. Every food company is trying to use the word.
    To me it speaks more about consumerism and marketing than healthy eating.

  13. I’m jaded about the organic label myself. Great article, and an even better discussion you’ve kindled!

    My tiny little garden (which is still in its baby stages) is all organic. Some of what I buy elsewhere is organic; some isn’t. My husband and I are gradually switching over to more local and organically-grown foods, as well as local eggs, milk, and butter.

    When it comes to packaged foods, though, which I do buy some of, I go with organic whenever possible. But it’s a difficult process for us; with both my husband and I working outside the home, our schedule is tight.

    I’m so looking forward to our local farmer’s market, which opens in a week! I’m also looking forward to my garden starting to produce; I have plans to do more preserving and canning this year, now that I have a house and kitchen space!

  14. I wouldn’t say that I’m anti-organic. But I definitely agree that local and sustainable takes precedence. If I have the choice, getting to know the farmer who produced the food is far more important to me than the certification. And there are many cases where I opt to buy something that isn’t certified, but follows organic and sustainable principles, because I know the person who grew the food.

    And, really, what is the point of organic pop tarts? That’s one I have a really hard time wrapping my head around.

  15. There are certain foods that I do try to eat organically (the dirty dozen in veggies in fruits), but the budget does not always allow for even that. We raise all of our own meat and grow a big garden every year. I read a book and I really like the 3 principle the author uses. Eat only what God intended for food. Eat it as close to the way God created it as you can. Don’t make how you eat your God. Your health is in His hands.

  16. Just like there is a “green-wash” movement amongst some businesses to make their products more consumer friendly, I think there is a case to be made for the existence of an “organic-wash” movement too ;) As long as it has that little label, well it doesn’t matter if the food is *actually* healthy, cause hey, it’s ORGANIC!! lol…but fudge is still fidge, and poptarts are still poptarts, even if they are organic.

    I buy local over organic – if I can find local organic, even better! And as our gardens expand, we’ll add more and more organic foods to our diet. But they will be primarily healthy foods, not junk foods with an organic label.

  17. Just like any other definition that should be pure marketing takes and spins it. :(

    Good job defending your food stance, you speak for me too.

  18. Rob

    LOL I don’t know If I agree with the term “AntiOrganic” but I do agree with the fact that Organic is a label that major ag conglomerates and food producers like to slap on their products. Kinda like “Green”.

  19. I eat organically because of my health problems. I have MAJOR chemical sensitives and don’t want chemicals in my food plus I don’t want to support GMO food.

    However I include local food that I have talked to the farmers and know they raise their food to organic like standards. That is mostly what we do for our meat and whatever else I can find.

    I however believe we should have good safe food for all but until that happens I have to take care of my health and my husbands.

  20. Marlayna

    Yay! I love this post. And I agree with you. A friend of mine and I were discussing this yesterday as she is pestering me to buy organic. I brough up some of these points with her (before I read this) and I am glad that others out there feel the same. While I do not necessarily eat organic everything I am very much into local produce.

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