What do you do if your college-aged son tells you that supermarket foods are “dead” and only support government-subsidized monocultures? The answer is “natural and organic foods”… But what does that mean? What can conversion mean to you?
When does it make a difference? Who wouldn’t be fascinated by the fact that one package says “free-range chickens” from “sustainable farming”, while another simply lists the price and weight (in pounds) of “alternative chickens” produced under factory farming and mass distribution? How do you choose? Is one chicken more “chicken” than another?
Will an image of happy cows grazing in green pastures and a package labeled “organic” make you think twice and buy? And what about the buyer’s dilemma when an organic milk brand is ultra-pasteurized, as opposed to a competitor’s organic dairy product? …… And what about another organic raw milk, in the same product packaging, that claims it is better for you because it is unpasteurized and therefore fresher?
What do natural and organic mean?
First of all, there is no doubt that natural and organic food is now a very big business, with a network of producers stretching from Argentina to California to Calgary and beyond, tens of thousands of distributors and an estimated market value of $11 billion. No other food sector is growing in sales as fast as organic food.
* On the package.
The stories on organic food packaging are reminiscent of children’s stories about cows living peacefully on idyllic farms. Hmmm, it’s safe food, it’s communion with Mother Nature,” we think, and we buy more of it because we have a cultural aversion to modernization and big business interests. But is this view justified or just naive?
What is the reality of organic food? Imagine a conventional factory farm. Large farms and 24-hour cultivation, sale to large warehouses, certain product characteristics, reliable delivery, low prices, mechanization, the same requirements as the “house brand” of conventional industrial food. The pressure of “product standardization” and “financial survival” quickly turns an ideal small farm into a routine business. Indeed, “marketing tricks” and the clever use of “narratives” on organic food labels seem to provide buyers with accurate information about the origin of the products. But isn’t this simply a distinction without a distinction?
The benefits of organic foods are not limited to their appearance.
Suppose the benefits of organic food are related to growing and production methods. How can we explain the benefits of ultra-pasteurized milk, which has clearly lost its nutritional value due to heat treatment? The answer stems from the commercial reality that long shelf life and stability are needed to sell over long distances. With a pen stroke, transportation logistics become a “purchase tax”.
* Does organic food from animals mean that the steaks you eat are organic?
What about “organic beef”? It turns out that beef labeled “organic” only means that it was raised on fenced dry land and fed certified organic grain. So where are the grasslands and pastures? According to FDA packaging rules, grass or pasture depicted on the package is not necessary to be considered a legitimate organic product.
* Real organic vegetables are complex, not simplistic.
In rare cases, small farmers who raise a mix of chickens, pigs, turkeys, and cows and consistently graze them on sunny pastures are as close to organic as Mother Nature will allow. They use no pesticides or herbicides and very few antibiotics. And why? By exploiting the herbivorous nature of the cattle. Added to this is the co-evolutionary relationship with curlews such as turkeys and chickens, which eat earthworms and waste… They receive a sort of free meal. One species’ waste becomes another species’ breakfast. So who pays the energy costs to avoid petrochemicals? Where does the energy come from? From the sun.
Advantages and disadvantages of organic food.
As long as the farms where your food is produced do not use petrochemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pharmaceuticals and the workers do not breathe in carcinogenic compounds, the fertility and complexity of the soil is threatened and the benefits of organic food remain indirect and frankly invisible.
* Moral dimension.
If you accept the perception and reality of organic food, you will feel better and, incidentally, the planet and its farmers will be a little healthier. That’s okay.
Sara has completed her education in marketing and started her career as a digital marketer. She is a content writer by profession. And she would love to add multiple things to her knowledge that she can add to her writing style. She writes about organic products like organic oil at organic stores in Lahore.