Sam Redman's Musings

Random thoughts on a variety of subjects

Organically grown, but then what happens?

By Sam Redman

We live in a very dishonest society. And while I think that there are perhaps obvious benefits to eating truly “organically” cultivated food, a would-be organic consumer has very little assurance that what is purchased truly meets the definition and intention of the organic philosophy. Certified to be raised without chemical fertilizers and pesticides alone is not sufficient without scrupulous inspection controls to prevent corrupt business practices from allowing incorporation of poisonous materials which they have solemnly pledged that they won’t use.

Further, if the product has had dangerous chemicals introduced further along its path from the farm to your table, the practices at the farm become irrelevant. How it was raised is important, but It is also germane to consider its condition and degree of contamination at the point the item reaches your mouth. A farm may indeed be certified at one point (and even periodically), but without very close on-going on-site inspection methods, it would be quite easy to cheat (and there is more money to be made when production can be stimulated by chemical means). Corruption abounds anywhere a dollar is to be made. It is naivety to think that the methods of policing organic farming are anywhere close to that of our flawed governmental system of inspecting meat processing and we know that those heavily financed agencies and well-staffed mechanisms are extremely inefficient and fault ridden. Lots of “organic” products are being imported from Mexico, Central America and even China. It would take a sophisticated network all over the world of military precision, resources and complexity to carry off the lofty goal of ensuring that every farm is meeting standards.

Further, the steps of transportation, distribution and eventual offering of the so-called “organic” products in the grocery are further subject to the temptations of business “ethics,” a code which dictates profit for survival. Many business persons would tell you that “there’s been a load of compromisin’ on the road to my horizon.”

Anyone involved in transporting and distributing fragile perishable food is familiar with using chemicals to keep insects away from fruits and vegetables, using “biocidal” agents to prevent rotting and employing compounds to preserve color in transit and in the grocer’s bins. All these are possible areas for compromise at any of the stages, as the items make their way from the field to trucks to the trains to the warehouses and finally to the store.

Stand around in any grocery and watch the produce clerk spraying raw vegetables and fruits with chemicals to keep them from getting brown (they call them “freshifiers”). I once saw a clerk with a can of “Raid,” who explained that “this time of year, nothing else stops the gnats.”

It’s fun to be part of the organic lifestyle… but, unless we have a way of checking these items at every step of the way, we can never have the comfort of knowing that we are actually eating what is pure and “righteous.”

— Sam


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This entry was posted on August 30, 2009 by and tagged , .