Organic foods are those that are grown and processed for consumers without artificial interferences. These include fertilizers and preservatives. Because of the lack of “assistance” in maintaining freshness, organic foods have developed a bit of a reputation. In the food contamination cases of late where fresh foods seem to be harbingers of E. coli and salmonella, organic foods are being viewed as slightly risky eating. But is this fear warranted? The answer is no. This myth, along with several others, has created an unsavory reputation for the industry.
Myth 1: Organic food sales were impacted by the mass fresh food recalls
This myth’s origins are in the fear that food free of preservatives and growth chemicals are teaming with pathogens. In reality, processed organic foods can be cleaned with chemical solutions to remove pathogens. The solvent used simply must be fully rinsed away after use. In this way, the foods are sanitized before consumption.
Myth 2: The organics industry is less regulated than the traditional food industry
Actually, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does regulate the organics industry through the USDA’s National Organic Program. The program was established to enforce the national organics rules created by the agency. The rule covers everything from the approved source of the ingredients to manufacturing and packaging requirements. The USDA monitors, tests, inspects, and sanctions the organics manufacturing plants in the U.S. just as they would any other firm.
Myth 3: Organic farms and manufacturing plants are “mom and pop” operations
In truth, there are large scale organic farms like Earthbound with over 150 farms and farmers producing and high production manufacturing plants like United Natural Foods Incorporated. These firms are only growing with the popularity of organic foods. There seems to be no slowing them down.
Myth 4: Organic foods are cheaper to produce but are marked up as premium goods anyway
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Organics are a higher maintenance product than non-organic foods because no freshness safety net provided by the preservatives and fertilizers applied throughout the process. The price actually reflects the refrigeration, quick shipping to market and other measures that must be taken to ensure the organic food makes it to market. There is no conspiracy involved in the markup.
Organic food manufacturing has long been considered the hippy of food manufacturing. Fortunately, this title is wholly unwarranted. The industry is held to the same standards as other food sectors. Organics by nature require even more standards of care, however. The next time you hear of a food recall, carefully consider the news. The product in question may very well be a preservative laden, fertilizer grown product and not an organic.