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My main concern with organic food is how effectively it will be regulated and the information consumers get. Now that Organic food is 'fashionable' and mainstream, supermarkets are jumping on the bandwagon and producers (I wont say farmers, they don't seem to exist much any more) are switching more and more over to organic.
With more organic food being produced, how much can we tell about the foods from just an 'organic' label? Would vegetables and fruit grown in sterile conditions in greenhouses be classified as organic? What are the different 'levels' of organic?
To me organic not only refers to a method of production but also to an ideology, one of old-fashioned farming, growing to the season, using natural methods, etc.. This may be idealistic but I think is the idea that people are looking for. If organic becomes the norm, it will no longer be a guarantee of this idea, and will become industrialised.
Maybe I'm wrong, but when you see shiny organic apples that have been flown halfway across the world it seems to be going against the principle.
I have been thinking along the same lines but I still buy the organic food - when I can afford it. I think of it as sending a signal that I want my food to be organically grown/produced.
I live in Scandinavia and it is my impression that the people controlling the producers here are quite strict. I trust the label saying it is controlled by the state. I assume that it is much the same in other places. It is always a bit scary when the food comes from far away since we can have very little idea about how things are done there. I do not mind that organic food has become mainstream. It is important that the standarts of what can be considered organic is not lowered and I do not believe that they will be lowered. The label is a message to the consumer and the moment people stops trusting it the producers has lost. They know it and I do not think that they will allow it to happen. Both because they probably believe in what they do and because it would make very little sence to ruin your own market. It is in their own interest to keep the control strict.
The Soil Association in the UK have very strict standards, which are higher in some areas than the ones the government (or the EU, I forgot which) handed down. They are also very concerned with the point that you made - that as supermarkets and big corps try to jump on the organic bandwagon, standards might be seen to slip.
So, they're guarding against that, and staying aware.
As it stands for imported food, it depends a bit on where it comes from. Some countries ( the 'richer' ones for the most part) have their own organic standards and food may be certified by those. If in doubt, you would have to check or just take their word for it.
But some food is imported from other countries that don't have their own standards. In that case, the importers can have the products certified by one of the UK bodies (of which the Soil Association is the one I know most about) and in that case the food would have had to be produced to the UK standards.
So the only thing you can do is look for the little logos....
The Soil Association believe, as you do, that organic food is produced more 'naturally' and a lot of the standards take care of those issues. I don't personally know whether something like hydroponics could ever qualify. But the standards of each accreditation agency should be available for inspection.
Yeah, I do trust the Soil Association label.
It's just worrying that the only thing the consumer has to go on is a logo on the packaging. Having a particuar label so closely connected with a set of ideals puts a lot of pressure and responsibility on the certification authority.
Yes, it does, and the label is only as good as the certification authority, but there's no real way around that I don't think. And we're just starting to realise how little the average consumer knows about the food their eating - and how hard it is for them to find out that information and believe what they're told.
Consumer trust is being eroded every day, which is something the certification authorities are going to have to deal with. Any hint that they're not living up to their standards and the organic industry will go the way of the conventional farming industry and concerned people will revert to growing their own food....
Hopefully, that can be avoided!
Anyway, I think a lot of the support organic food growing has today is due to the fact that you cannot trust the ordinary food anymore. Despite all the commersials and the denials about a chemical or other being bad for your health. You cannot trust that kind of information anymore.
I really hope that the trust you can put in the organic food label today is not destroyed.