Organic – The Household Term
Within the last ninety days, The Cornucopia Institute has released information to the public regarding their investigation of and subsequent “legal complaints against fourteen industrial livestock operations producing milk, meat and eggs being marketed, allegedly illegally, as organic.” This information quickly circulated the online vegetarian and vegan communities, and begs the question as to how dependable branding and labelling really is, specifically the USDA’s organic certification.
One of the recurring issues at hand in vegetarian and vegan news is the sustainability of current commonplace agricultural practices, particularly in the meat market, and what this means to mankind as a whole moving forward. While one can surmise from this labelling malpractice of sorts is that there are certainly many health-conscious people that are concerned with where their food comes from, how it was grown/raised, and the overall farming practices used; the mark of an overwhelming cultural shift, it also sheds light on the notion that the businesses providing these “organic” foods have quotas to fill, which become more and more difficult to sustain as demand increases, particularly when marketing terms like “cage-free” and “free range” are tossed around (and the simple fact that a lot of consumers are willing to pay more for a carton of eggs or a package of meat with these feel-good marketing terms stamped on them – it’s not far removed from a scene from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle), and the amount of usable land available while production continues to increase becomes more and more limited.
This in no way justifies the dishonesty of livestock/agriculture companies seeking to market to the health-conscious nor the negligence of the USDA, as much as it should push consumers to disavow their allegiances to open-ended marketing terms, instead opting to form their dietary practices, when possible, from the observable – especially those with quick and easy access to the internet. Buying free range and organic meats, eggs and milk at the grocery store each week from a farm with +20,000 cattle and +1,000,000 hens is an unfortunate yet substantial leap of faith.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/78/Florida_chicken_house.jpg