Just the facts, please

07/06/2012 09:57:00 AM
Chris Koger

It’s started — my grocery store has locally grown signs throughout the produce aisle, with everything from blackberries to cukes and squash on display.

Chris Koger, News EditorThe handful of items with locally grown labels that made it into my cart so far have been delicious.

There’s nothing in the store or on those labels, however, that tell me where they were grown and harvested. Like everyone else, I just have to take it on faith that they were grown somewhere nearby, or within an hour’s drive, or in an adjacent state. Who knows?

To tell the truth, I don’t care. I just want it to taste good.

I was more impressed that the store had fresh figs from California, from Stellar Distributing, Madera. I’ve been to those fig orchards and watched harvest. I never gave much credence to the “Know Your Grower” campaign, but it is neat to tell my kids I’ve seen the fields/groves/orchards where certain products are grown.

Sometimes journalists come across items odd items, but there’s no way to fit them into news coverage. We just circulate them in the newsroom and move on.

All topics are fair game in a column, though.

A writer for The Packer was recently researching a sprout company that had recalled organic product because of a positive test for salmonella. The company, boasting about the stringent organic testing its products go through, compared organic and conventional sprout growing methods on its website. Some of the claims are bizarre. Outbreaks are serious, of course, but the company goes overboard in hyping the organic angle.

From the website:

Organic: Harvesting equipment ... shall be completely sanitized before use on organic crops.

Non-Organic: The equipment is not cleaned between usages. (Huh? Never? Maybe it’s not mandatory, but that’s quite a generalization.)

Organic: Farmer must use certified organic seeds and maintain complete records of seed source in case traceback ever required.

Non-Organic: The farmer does not know where his seeds come from.

(This brings to mind the problems tracing the origin of the organic seeds blamed for an E. coli outbreak in Europe in 2011 that killed dozens of people.)

Organic: Food contact areas are sanitized with products approved by ONS (Organic National Standards) ...

Non-Organic: Growers use any chemicals that wish. (Any chemicals? This is just not true.)

Organic: Finished product is stored and delivered between 34 and 42 degrees farenheit.

Non-Organic: Non-refrigerated vehicles are frequently used for delivery. (Ha!)

It’s hard to take anyone seriously who spreads that kind of BS. It’s just another example of the disinformation campaigns used by marketers to confuse consumers. Both organic and conventional produce have plenty of positive attributes without mudslinging.

Email ckoger@thepacker.com.



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