Organic Food or Not – The Responsible Choice

In 2007, the USDA, upon the petition for inclusion of certain groups using these ingredients in the production of their organic product, proposed 38 ingredients be labeled organic even though they are not grown organically. These are: Celery Powder, Natural Sausage Casings, Chia, several (food) Colors, Dillweed Oil, Fish Oils, Fish Gelatin, Fructo-oligosaccharides, Frozen Galangal, Hops, Inulin enriched with Oligofructose (comes from chicory plant), Konjac Flour, Frozen Lemongrass, Orange Shellac, Chipotle Chile, Rice Starch, Sweet Potato Starch, Turkish Bay Leaves, Wakame Seaweed, and Whey Protein Concentrate.

To elaborate, the whey protein concentrate is taken as example. Petitioner Stonyfield Farm imports whey protein concentrate to avoid rBGH-derived whey protein from US dairies. It further said that the concentrate is unavailable in sufficient quantities in organic form because, as a byproduct of cheese-making, supply depends on sales of organic cheese, rather than sales of organic yogurt. The Organic Consumers Association objected by saying that there is sufficient quantity.

In May 2008, USDA renewed its approval of 46 non-organic ingredients to be used in foods and beverages that are labeled “organic”. Forty-one of these are non-agricultural, non-organic products (examples are calcium carbonate, flavors, sodium carbonate) while only 5 are agricultural non-organic products (corn starch, unbleached lecithin). USDA withdrew its approval for colors derived from non-synthetic sources and for potassium tartrate derived from tartaric acid.

There are two main arguments connected with these developments. On the one side, there are the organic food consumers asserting that an organically-certified product must undergo complete organic process including addition of organic ingredients. On the other side, there are the organic food producers and certifiers allowing non-organic food be included in their organic products. Both, of course, think that their arguments are correct and justifiable. It now depends on how one views life and processes.

In the process of going back to natural organic food, standards and concepts will always be subject to change. People, who for the longest part of their lives have inorganic foods on their table, cannot right away be completely and strictly organic food consumers. They will have to gradually introduce this to their system and lifestyle as most of the foods available in the market are inorganically produced. The fact is, though the organic food market is booming, people are still not completely organic food consumers. As about 70% Americans buy organic food, they only buy occasionally; and though one quarter buy it weekly, there are still a lot of non-organic stuff in their cupboard. This, however, does not mean that the argument of the petitioners are valid.

It only means that the choice is with the consumers. If a consumer want purely organic product, they buy the purely organic ones. If a consumer, after knowing that a product contains non-organic ingredients, still decides to buy the product, then, the consumer had made the choice. It may be wrong from another organic consumer’s point of view, but that was another person’s view. Every individual is only responsible for what ever choice he or she makes. Any individual cannot be accountable for the choice of another individual.

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