Mischa Popoff, guest columnist Wherever you go in the world, organic food standards fail to uphold even the most basic rules of common sense.
And no, I’m not a detractor of the principles of organic farming. I grew up on an organic farm and worked for five years as an advanced organic farm and process inspector. I guess you could say I know too much about this “green” industry to keep quiet.
Have a look at the organic standards of any G-20 nation and you’ll see none that require an annual field test, much less a surprise inspection.
Instead, a bureaucratic honor system that the organic industry has relied upon since 1973 is the law in every land.
Those who oversee the various organic standards of the world — like Miles McEvoy for instance, deputy administrator of the National Organic Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture — assure us they’ll soon implement field testing and surprise inspections.
But thus far the $50-billion-per-annum global organic industrial complex runs completely on paperwork.
Back it up
Imagine a husband using his day timer to “prove” he was being faithful to his wife: “See honey? I was at the office ‘til midnight yesterday.”
Imagine if policemen didn’t have radar guns or breathalyzers.
Or my favorite: Imagine the Olympics without athletes being tested to ensure they’re not using performance-enhancing drugs.
Even a McDonald’s restaurant is subject to more scientific scrutiny than an organic farm.
Oh sure, some organic farms are small-scale, local, family-run enterprises operated by people who are as honest as the day is long.
But the majority of certified-organic food comes from corporate organic farms, the majority of which are located outside the U.S. in countries like China.
As such, anyone concerned with the purity and nutritional content of the food they feed their family will do better to establish a direct buying relationship with an organic farmer they can meet in person rather than rely on the lax bureaucracy that masquerades as oversight in the organic biz.
Or just buy regular food.
The industry’s objection to surprise testing is that it will raise the price of organic food.
But a multi-pesticide test costs one-tenth what organic farmers and processors currently pay for certification.
So, clearly, surprise field testing will reduce the cost of organic foods. It will also free organic farmers up from the dreary duties of filling out paperwork, as well as diminish the absolute authority currently held by the owners of for-profit organic certification agencies that determine who gets to become certified.