It’s currently –3 outside. It may warm up to 0 degrees by lunchtime. Lovely. But I can’t complain about this view…
It is one of my goals to watch the sun rise one of these mornings. I’m pretty good at catching the sunsets, but there’s just something about seeing the sun rise before the day starts…
Cold weather calls for warm soup. This kale and potato soup is a perfect way to thaw after…walking out to your mailbox. Ha.
I had this tidy little post written up about organic food and the dirty dozen, but after reading a chapter on the topic in Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, my thoughts have changed.
Pollan presents two different views of ‘organic.’ It can be:
- a labeling term to identify food that meets USDA standards as described below.
- a philosophy; a way of growing food that most closely mimics nature.
A little trip to the USDA’s website revealed this information:
- 100% organic: must contain only organically produced ingredients and processing aids.*
- organic: must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients;* remaining product ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances approved on the National List.
- made with organic ingredients: 70% organic ingredients; can appear on the front of package, naming the specific ingredients.
- contains organic ingredients: contains less than 70% organic ingredients.
*excludes water and salt; can be labeled with USDA organic seal
Most of us view organic food in the context of the first definition. It has met certain criteria; therefore, we view it as safe and environmentally responsible to eat. However, many organic farms are starting to follow the factory farm model and no longer fit into the second definition of organic.
While they do not use chemical pesticides, they grow so many crops that the land is depleted, and they must use artificial means to put nutrients back into the soil. While they do not treat their animals with hormones, organic farmers may still confine them to small spaces and feed them “organic grain,” when the animals are naturally meant to digest grass.
The produce you find at Whole Foods is not likely from small farmers; it is more expensive to deal with these farmers, and they do not grow enough produce to stock a grocery store. Instead, your produce may have come from a mega organic grower somewhere across the country.
So…what does this say about the farming model and the benefits of purchasing organic food?
- there is still value in using organic methods to farm vs. hormones and pesticides.
- the closer organic farming moves toward factory farming, which is not a sustainable practice, the more it becomes harmful to the environment.
- seeing ‘organic’ as a philosophy vs. a labeling term changes the way we view products like organic tv dinners, organic cookies, and organic high fructose corn syrup (???!!!).
Personally, I find it more beneficial to purchase food from local farmers, since I can find out firsthand how they grow their crops and raise their animals. I know that is not possible for everyone, and it’s one of the things about modern culture (as in, most of us cannot choose farming as a viable occupation) that has also changed our food system.
Thoughts? How do you define organic food?