The Argument Over Organic Foods: Can't We All Just Get Along?

I recently received an e-mailed press release from The Cornucopia Institute, which claims to be a Wisconsin-based organic industry watchdog. The Cornucopia Institute was lamenting about Sara Lee's recent marketing over a product called EarthGrains Bread.

I understand the Institute's need to protect the sanctity of organic food. There is a huge difference between an organic orange and Minute Maid Orange Cola. Those organic orange growers, and the people who buy said organic oranges deserve to know the truth about their produce. However, when I read the what the Institute had to say to Sara Lee and even its semi-partner-in-marketing crime, NPR, I began to wonder: can't we all just get along? 

Quotes like this one from Cornucopia Institute's Co-Director Mark A. Kastel don't instill a lot of confidence that they'll be getting along any time soon: 

"Even though they've done a countrywide media rollout, including underwriting spots on National Public Radio, Sara Lee is, in essence, playing a shell game. Even as they had the audacity to promote a bread with just 20% of their ‘value added’ wheat, the rest of their product line has 0% content of the Eco-Grain.  If advertising executives could be charged with malpractice, this would be a major felony.” 

The release goes on to point out various chemical and organic-jargon variables that the seperate real organics from the wanna-be imposters. Okay, I get it. The type of fertilizer used wasn't 100% non-synthetic and they used a "fancy wheat" but shouldn't we point out a positive here: Sara Lee is making a product that is actually good for people and probably cheaper than most real organic food? 

Whenever I read or hear arguments over the Organics versus the I-would-be-organic-but's...the talking points seem to center around two very legitimate concerns: healthiness and price. 

Personally, I don't buy all organic because we're in a recession and I can't afford to pay for an entirely organic grocery bill. But I do make healthy choices when it comes to my food. I know plenty of people like me who shop with a similar grocery philosophy. 

Imagine what kind of food industry world peace we could have if watchdog groups could work with food processors about organicizing their food rather than writing the CEO's threatening letters. In turn, food processors could maybe throw a little more honor toward the organic label. 

Imagine what kind of consumers we'd have if the Organics and the non Organics just got along. 

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Comments

  • Great Post,

    I have to do play devils advocate here.

    I believe the profit incentive can lead many companies to do whats best for the bottom line and not whats best for the people.

    Threatening letters aside, I think it is good to have a few groups that are hard nosed about keeping deceptive practices at bay. If there weren't such groups I think it would be a more confusing and misleading food retail arena.

    Getting along would be great. Seems like its hard for everyone to do in the business world.

    Jerry Sales / Marketing Particle Control Inc Contract Food Manufacturing

    Reply

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