I had been a devoted “certified organic” shopper for 25 years, when something struck me while shopping in a well known supermarket in 2003. While selecting broccoli in the produce section I couldn’t help but notice that the appearance of both the conventionally grown and the “certified organic” broccoli looked exactly the same! I picked up a bunch of each; felt them, smelled them, both seemed exactly the same… so, I bought both to perform a little experiment.
I continued my shopping and as I walked each isle I began wondering… how was it that just a mere few years ago that none of my local stores sold anything organic and all of a sudden organic fresh produce, canned/jarred, and boxed organic foods lined shelves. “Hmmmm, I smell something fishy!” I said to myself.
As I walked down each isle I began losing my appetite thinking of what the USDA might have changed when they took over organic standards and regulations… I continued entertaining what might be going on and speculated; in the past few years there had NOT been a rush of people to purchase land and establish organic farms. Quite the contrary many farmers were selling their prized land to developers! Now, I was smelling a BIG skunk! I looked around at other shopper’s and wondered if they too had put 2+2 together yet???
That week I performed my unscientific study on those two bunches of broccoli. They each sat side-by-side in my fridge for a week. After two days I took out two small pots and put the exact same amount of water in each pot, in each pot I placed one washed spear of broccoli from each of my two specimens. I cooked each pot of broccoli for the exact same amount of time, and then smelled and tasted each… They both not only smelled exactly the same but they tasted exactly the same!!!
Had I not been an organic consumer for so many years I may have not noticed any difference. But I was and I knew. At the end of the week I closely examined both bunches of broccoli and they both turned bad exactly the same way! That’s all I need to see to confirm my suspicions!
Conventionally grown broccoli will turn yellow on the top and get this nasty odor as it gets old.
Truly organic broccoli, because organically raised broccoli will shrink and start looking as if it’s been mummified; the reason for this is that organically raised broccoli has far less water in its cells because organic farmers use less water and they tend to use varieties of broccoli that age differently than conventional.
At the time I didn’t know what kind of slight-of-hand they were up to but since then I have refused to spent 50% more for certified organic food. What I began doing was searching out local farmers who told me they didn’t use chemicals while growing. Even though they weren’t certified organic, I still trusted their word more than the certified label. Since then, I have saved 50% of my money and found other, more reliable sources for food.
An article by Dr. Mercola discussing yet another thing that’s going on in the certified organic industry, You are Being Ripped Off by Much of the “Organic” Food You’re Buying.
For years, it has been challenging to find accurate information on what happened to our “certified organic” food; I think many people who are in positions to know the answer didn’t want to say anything because big companies can get pretty nasty and make life extremely difficult for smaller farmers. Still, I knew what I knew and it wasn’t right to take a perfectly good industry and turn it into a marketing scheme, not for the sake of the health of people or the environment but for profits and control.
Recently, I read in a USA Today article that many small farms (and perhaps some larger ones too) have stopped playing the certified organic game because it’s costly and requires a full time staff position to do the mandatory paperwork necessary for the label. This cuts into profits severely.
Additionally, those who have opted-out of being certified have said that they haven’t stopped growing organically; they still do, and in many cases they say that the methods they use go “beyond organic” standards. I believe this entirely because the standards for certification 25 years ago were far more strict, back then it was very difficult to win the label of certified… which is how I knew in the supermarket that day that something was up.
Many don’t know that the certified organic meats sold in stores came from cattle that was raised in a feedlot. In my mind, who cares if they were feed organic corn or soy beans! Cows need to eat grass and lots of it! Their digestive system cannot handle grains or soy beans… which is why they can’t live longer than 13 months, they become sickly and diseased from the unnatural diet fed to them.
Another bug-a-boo I have is labels on eggs stating the chickens were fed a “Vegetarian Diet”. Chickens originated in Asia and were forest dwellers and roosted in trees. They ate plants, grasses, seeds, and an assortment of insects, to name a few, but anyone who does have chickens will tell you that they will eat nearly anything particularly tomatoes. I ‘want’ chicken eggs that come from chickens who lived their life outdoors foraging and who ate bugs!
Aside from local farmers and gardeners, there are two companies that I personally know who have ‘opted-out’ of jumping through USDA hoops and fee’s for the –what I now call– a worthless, meaningless label. These two companies I know also practice the organic standards that once were the norm. These are what I call “beyond organic”. The two companies I know and trust are Young Living Essential Oils and US Wellness Meats.
Across the USA, many small-scale farmers do not feel the need to become certified organic, even if their method of farming would meet or exceed federal standards. Many locavores feel they don’t need a third-party certification for something they’ve seen with their own eyes. Credibility in the community is how “Beyond Organic” farmers are able to make ends meet. Many do all the farmwork themselves, while keeping the books, selling at farmers markets and getting the word out. Let’s search them out and support their brilliant efforts!
Young Living Essential Oils goes ‘beyond organic’ and absolutely meets ‘my’ criteria for organic and sustainability. They compost plant material, have worm growing beds and use the finished product to mix with their compost, dig ponds to water their plants, and refuses to buy property for their farms that are down-stream from toxic practices their neighbors might be involved in (which actually is not an organic requirement), hand-planting, they don’t even use regular grease on their farm equipment so as to not contaminate their fields and plant material (this too is NOT an organic requirement), this is just to name a handful of ‘beyond organic’ practices.
US Wellness Meats beef, bison, lamb and dairy products are 100% grass-fed from start to finish, (which actually is not an organic requirement) they don’t use any pesticides or fertilizers on their pastures and do not feed any antibiotics or add hormones to their animals.
Search my blog posts here to find terrific recipes for uses of YL essential oils and US Wellness Meats!
Native Plant Landscaper, Gardener, Labyrinth Design, Feng Shui Practitioner, Aromatherapy / Essential Oils, Big Fan of Nature and Living Simply.
"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly."
~ R. Buckminster Fuller