In Organic We Trust
Produced and directed by Kip Pastor
People have come to assume that organic certified food is the gold standard of real, uncontaminated, pure food. When interviewed and asked why he eats organic foods, the average person on the street will usually say it is healthier for you, it’s not exposed to pesticides, and then his voice trails off because he doesn’t really know much more than that.
This film takes a close look at what is under the rug of the organic industry, and it’s not as clean as most people might think.
The philosophy that inspired the organic standard included concepts like working with nature, using no chemicals, no irradiation, no GMO, no sludge, and acknowledging that soil quality is where it all starts. If you don’t have good soil, it doesn’t matter what you grow or how you grow it. Certain pesticides are allowed by organic standards but they are all natural, whatever that means. The organics philosophy also intended that food ought to be from local sources, not shipped from the other side of the planet.
So how well does the organic industry as a whole stick to those principles? If I mention that the USDA oversees and controls organic standards that might trigger some doubts among those who are familiar with such government agencies. But it gets even more doubtful. The USDA does not directly inspect organic farms but authorizes independent inspection organizations to do that. Inspections are only done once per year. If I were suspicious I might think that leaves a lot of time to mess around between inspections. Another suspicious fact is that the inspectors are paid by the farmers they inspect. Funny how often conflict of interest is at the core of everything a government agency does. To top it all off, the USDA really has no oversight over farms and producers from other countries. Is that “organic” food from China or any other country really organic? Who knows?
The producer scheduled an appointment to interview the USDA for this film which was then cancelled by the USDA. Showing the usual lack of spine, the USDA evaded any further attempts to be interviewed. The producer doesn’t waste a lot of film time suggesting approaches to fix the USDA. The main solution offered here is to forget about the USDA and their organic certification and go local, and even to grow your own food as much as possible. I happen to agree and so does my UP-turned thumb.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2013.