January 23, 2016
Organic….Natural…..Locally Grown. These words are common in the marketplace because consumers are demanding fresh and healthy. Natural News estimates that 2014 profits from the sale of organic and natural food were over $35 billion. Consumers want healthy and we’re willing to pay for it. The prices of organic food products are often much more than food that doesn’t have the organic seal of approval. In some cases the price is over 100% more than non-organic products. The profits from organic food combined with a weak inspection system in the US has resulted in a consumer world where food that is advertised as organic is often far from it. We’re paying a ton of money for organic food and, oftentimes, getting junk.
In 2015, Forbes published an investigation of the organic food industry. “The Colossal Hoax of Organic Agriculture” is a well researched work that shines a light on a number of issues, including how misinformed the consumer is regarding organic food. Consider pesticides. Although it’s generally true that chemical pesticides are prohibited in organic products, there are exceptions including natural pesticides. Natural pesticides can be toxic. Another consumer misconception is regarding GMOs, genetically modified organisms. Consumer perception is that organic means GMO free. It doesn’t. As long as organic food is produced using an authorized process (which is not closely inspected), the presence of GMOs in food is not a violation.
So how can this all happen? Why aren’t testing standards protecting the consumer? Just follow the money to understand the scam. The sheer profits that organic food produces, including a super-high premium paid by consumers, has created an incentive for food producers to create a system that is lax and offers plenty of wiggle room. According to the Forbes study, for the majority of organic products, no tests can determine the difference between organic and non-organic. And when tests or inspections are present, they’re often incorrect or incomplete. Forbes cites a 2014 Wall Street Journal investigation that found that almost half of USDA inspection agents failed to uphold USDA standards. The organic food inspection system is totally loose. And the organic food lobby is so big and well-funded that their lobbying effort has been successful in preventing any changes to the system. Show me the money.
The poster child for bad behavior in organic foods is Whole Foods Market. According to the Forbes investigation, the food retailer was found to be importing large amounts of produce from China. Yes, the same China where the air is not breath-able. And the Whole Food’s scam gets even better. They advertised their Chinese “glow-in-the-dark” produce as “California Blend”.
So, what can a consumer do? First, unless you can personally identify and confirm how a product is produced, packaged and stored, don’t pay a premium for organic. Beyond that, do research for yourself. Below are several resources we believe are viable:
Lastly, call or write your representatives in Congress. Let them know that you’re informed regarding the organic food scam, including their complicity in maintaining the corrupt organic food system in the US.
CEO – The Consumer Team
Editor’s Note: The Consumer Team with Pete Thomson is heard Saturdays from 6-8 PM (Central) on CBS Radio’s 1080 KRLD, Dallas-Ft. Worth. The Consumer Team features news and information on consumer issues. Additionally, the program recommends ‘best in class’ business sponsors in the Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas area.