Recent news article from Tennessean states “U.S. tightens organic food label standards.” In short, the article confronts the reality that the National Organic Program (NOP) isn’t keeping up to appropriately organic standards and that food marketing businesses are cutting corners. Hoping to enforce the rules set down by previous government officials, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released further details on previously existing rules as to what can be labeled as an organic meat or dairy product. I was always skeptical that any food in a market could be labeled as “organic” and feared that there was no difference between a labeled item and not. “Reliability and transparency” are the defining terms for hardcore organic shoppers.
While the title of this recent blog post isn’t in iambic pentameter, it is apparent that I have a serious qualm with Shakespeare’s “rose by any other name” argument. In his play, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses Juliet (the altered quote from the title) to express that a name is an artificial social stigma. This quote indicates the feud between two families and the antipathy of two young lovers who believe that names are meaningless conventions. Clearly Shakespeare did not shop in the “organic” section of the food market. The family feud of today takes place in our local markets -- between organic and organically-labeled food products.
So what is organic? I found the following picture to be an accurate depiction of what I thought it meant:
This marketing strategy by Imagine is what we see in the food markets today. In class we watched a film, Food, Inc., which showed the revolting conditions through which most of our food in the U.S. is grown today. A toe-curling thought: there are labels placed on food items to incite feelings of house-warming and healthful goodness. The cunning use of the word “farmers” and “country” evokes trust within shoppers, though the quality is questionable at best. Fortunately, there is a difference between organically-labeled food products and those that lay barren.
The follows image explains what I cannot in less than a few thousand words:
So there is some method to the USDA’s madness, but the key is in one’s ability to interpret labels. The following advice is mostly sound:
Despite the conviction of the father within this video, the labels for fruit will not identify whether they have been genetically-modified or not. GMOs make up another can of worms in the muddled food industry labeling process. Needless to say, without doing research, buying anything off of a shelf that claims that it is organic and wholesome is not wise for the newly health-conscious consumer. If Shakespeare were alive today he would balk at the ill-used naming conventions of today. However, Yoda from Star Wars has taken a less ignorant stance on the side of caution, “All is not what it seems.”
On a last note, please read this website if you want to get on the road to more healthy organic foods.