How refreshing it was to watch (see video below) Michael Potter, Chairman and President of Eden Foods, in his testimony before the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). Many are too young to remember that back in the early 1990s there was quite a bit of concern and protest going on in the health food stores and among the organic food co-op’s. The fear back was that the USDA and the now NOSB would ruin the organics industry in some manner.
Prior to the USDA taking over organic regulation it was actually quite difficult for growers and farmers to meet the very strict organic regulations. While we weren’t certain back then how the new takeover would change the entire industry we did end up seeing the change happen within a relatively few years and it wasn’t good.
Large corporations who have purchased most of the our nation’s organic food industry and farms include: Coca-Cola, Cargill, General Mills, Kraft and M&M Mars, Kellogg’s, and Heinz, to name a few.
With the change in who regulates organics also meant the demise of thousands of small family owned organic farms. Stoneyfield Farms is one perfect example of how a wonderful food product can change virtually overnight and become nothing more than just another average commercial yogurt producer whose product is no longer truly organic, not to mention the fact that the product tastes disgusting as a result.
About 43 years ago, Michael Potter founded Eden Organics, back in the days when the word and label “organic” actually meant that something was super pure and truly natural. During those days, carrageenan, which is a seaweed-derived thickener that has a controversial health record, was not considered organic and was not allowed in a certified organic product. Also on the list of not organic ingredients was synthetic inositol, an ingredient manufactured using chemical processes. Today, those ingredients are permissible in labeled certified organic products. Worse yet is that GMO foods and ingredients are also allowed in labeled certified organic products.
For those of us who remember what food tasted like before the takeover all I can say is what is being sold and labeled today as organic is nothing more than a joke, the entire regulation and certification is shameful. Since the late 1970s I had gone out of my way and spent extra money for organic foods and products. Since 1999, I stopped wasting my time and money. What I’ve done instead is search out local small farms and individuals who practice the old methods and standards of organic. I have trusted their word for years, over the now meaningless certified organic label.
Once again, a few days after the most recent review on May 22, 2012, the NOSB board voted to keep carrageenan on the increasing list of non-organic ingredients which can be used in foods and products with the “certified organic” label.
It is beyond me how any regulatory body can approve known non-organic ingredients to be included in products with a certified organic label. I suppose the only real way we can get the organic industry back to the wholesomeness it was prized for is to stop buying certified organic foods and products altogether, if there is no profits to be made they will stop making phony organic certificates and claims.
To make matters worse, the onslaught of GMO seed is potentially contaminating not only the environment but organic seed and crops as well through cross-pollination. In my mind, the fact that GM soy can and is allowed to be fed to animals in certified organic feedlots is a huge step back in our evolution of maintaining a clean source of food for those who demand better.
Michael Potter says…
“The board is stacked. Either they don’t have a clue, or their interest in making money is more important than their interest in maintaining the integrity of organics.”
Michael Potter refuses to place the certified-organic label on Eden’s product, claiming it a fraud.
I am delighted that Eden Organics is speaking out about this. They are the only larger organic company that I am aware of that farms by the old regulations. Of course there are many beyond organic small farms dotting the county and I encourage you to seek them out through Local Harvest.
Previous posts on the concern and safety of our food:
Sustainable Beyond Organic Meats: we ARE what the animal eatsTransparency & Appreciation: I want all of my readers to know that I do provide links on this blog to other businesses that sell products that I use and love, I will never post a link to anything that is inconsistent with my ideology.
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