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August 15, 2009

"Organic" does not necessarily equal "good"

I was pleased to find this article in the LA Times today:

'Organic' Label Doesn't Guarantee Quality or Taste (L.A. Times)

This article nicely captures my feelings on the subject. I've got nothing against organic food. I eat a fair amount of it. A lot of it's pretty good. But you know what? A lot of non-organic food is pretty good, too. I bugs me to no end when people treat the organic label as though it's some magic talisman of awesome yumminess. It's just a label. A stunningly arbitrary label, actually. And one that doesn't take into account the vast majority of things that influence quality.

But I also have issues with the big company vs. small company bias lots of people, including this article's author, seem to have (but in the interest of full disclosure, I work for one of those big companies...though it's all relative--we're no Monsanto or Dole). In general, yes, big agribusiness has not done well by us in the flavor department (though to be fair, by constantly seeking to buy things for as cheap as possible rather than insisting on the importance of quality, we consumers have basically done it to ourselves), but there are many, many small farms that produce mediocre food too. And there are some big companies who produce pretty decent fruit.

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7 Comments:

At 8/16/2009 12:03:00 PM, Blogger Anastasia said...

"though to be fair, by constantly seeking to buy things for as cheap as possible rather than insisting on the importance of quality, we consumers have basically done it to ourselves"

Wow. I think you are the first person who I have ever seen admit this. Have you ever heard someone lament monoculture corn while munching on feedlot beef? They don't realize that they are the cause of the monoculture because their demand has affected supply. So frustrating.

 
At 8/17/2009 11:35:00 AM, Blogger Brandon Hurr said...

Since we're all taking snippets and adding our 2ยข:

In general, yes, big agribusiness has not done well by us in the flavor department...

I'm constantly surprised at how much big agribusiness is trying to turn this around. I'm not saying that yield and disease resistance are taking second and third place, but quality, taste, and flavor are becoming very important.

@Anastasia, this has actually been known for a while, but you're right, it's not exactly advertised by the seed companies, growers, packers, shippers, and retailers very much. Probably because they want to sell you flavorless water bags with crunch. Then again, pressure from the consumer side for better tasting and better for you fruit and vegetables has only really come about because of this push for organic and high quality produce.

 
At 8/18/2009 08:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's stunningly hard to grow organic fruit, much more difficult in fact than growing flavorful fruit. With fruit, unlike with many vegetables, organic growing involves tradeoffs against quality. Disease resistant varieties on the whole don't have flavor and texture that competes with varieties without disease resistance.

The organic movement back in the 1970s was really about vegetable growing (and to a lesser degree small fruits) and there has been an inappropriate broadening of scope to other products, meat being perhaps the most extreme example.

I want my fruit to be fresh and taste good, and ideally come from a local source. I don't particularly care how much Guthion has been sprayed at it.

 
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