Organics industry continues education efforts - The Packer

Organics industry continues education efforts

01/11/2013 11:10:00 AM
Jim Offner

Confused consumers

Goodwin said consumer perceptions of what constituted “local produce” often were fuzzier than their understanding of the organic category.

That’s understandable, said Amber Kosinsky, marketing director for Wish Farms, a Plant City, Fla.-based organic berry grower.

“There are different perceptions of local, whether it’s from down the street, in the same state or region or even U.S. vs. imports,” Kosinsky said.

Organic, on the other hand, is now a legal term, as defined in detail by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Simcha Weinstein, marketing director with Bridgeport, N.J.-based Albert’s Organics.

“We therefore know how the (organic) food is grown and processed. There is no standard or definition for what constitutes local — at least not yet,” he said.

Media discussions of organic and homegrown often blur the two categories, which doesn’t help, Weinstein said.

“It’s not at all an uncommon assumption for shoppers to believe that food that is grown locally is also organic,” he said.

That’s a huge misperception, which is “confounded by the fact that so much of the food you see at local farmers markets is labeled as organic,” Weinstein said.

Homegrown may be — but doesn’t have to be — organic, Weinstein said.

“Organic and local are not the same, and just because something is grown locally does not mean that it is raised using organic farming methods,” he said.

Both categories have their strengths, Weinstein said.

“The ideal, of course, is to find food that is both local and organic. That is the optimal food system,” he said.

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Mischa Popoff    
Osoyoos BC Canada  |  January, 12, 2013 at 07:14 PM

I must take issue with Simcha Weinstein's bold declaration that we know how organic food is grown and processed, but there is no standard or definition for what constitutes local. Really? It turns out the USDA basically does NO testing to ensure that USDA-NOP certified-organic food is even genuine. In fact, the USDA admits that less than 1% of the food it currently certifies as organic is ever tested, and when it is tested it's tested by European authorities, not American certifiers. In his capacity as the marketing director for Albert’s Organics, I encourage Simcha to do everything he can to help improve upon what the term certified-organic really means. Because if there's no testing, it might just mean nothing.

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