Here we are in 2014 and
the corporate farming of America is still spiraling out of control. This, in
spite of the fact that the organic food movement is growing by 10-15% per year.
Sales of organic food are said to reach $40 billion this year. Even though the
sales of organic foods are growing five times faster than sales of conventional
foods, organic food purchases only make up 5-10% of the average food bill. 50%
of Americans say that they prefer to buy organic, and almost everyone buys some
organic foods part of the time. When asked why they prefer organic, consumers
state that they want to buy and eat food free from pesticides, synthetic
hormones, antibiotic residues and genetically modified organisms. Consumers are
generally educated enough to know that the conventional food industry is
responsible for the deteriorating health of the public. They are becoming aware
that the corporate farming model is the leading cause of water pollution, soil
erosion, deforestation, wetland destruction, reduced biodiversity and
climate-affecting greenhouse gases. Concerns also include animal welfare, farm
workers and the sustainability of rural communities. The good news is that
organic farming and ranching is actually
regenerative and can save us from the catastrophe of global climate change by
reducing CO2 in the atmosphere, improving soil fertility, increasing plant
health, animal health, and human health as well. Why then is the organic revolution still
struggling to reach into the life of the general economy?
The truth is that most
people are still buying highly processed, chemically contaminated and
factory-farmed food. Farmers continue to plant GMO crops and douse them with
toxic chemicals. Junk-food addicted Americans spend almost half of their food
dollars eating in fast-food and chain restaurants where factory-farmed food is
the norm. Unfortunately, the Federal government fails to support farmers in the
transition to organic while spending billions of dollars subsidizing chemically
dependent and GMO operations. If organics got the same level of support, there
would no doubt be a surge in organic farming.
What are some of the
other problems be-setting the organic movement?
Nutritional and culinary illiteracy. While many
Americans claim that they want to eat better and cook more at home, most have
no real knowledge of nutrition or the superiority of organic foods and many
lack the basic culinary skills.
Big Food and Big Ag have effectively
brain-washed the public with the message that organic food is no healthier than
chemically produced and GMO food. This undermines the consumer’s incentive to
pay more for food when cheaper alternatives, many labelled “natural”, are
prevalent in the marketplace.
All fats are dangerous. We discussed this myth
in our last newsletter. Most people are under the mistaken impression that all
saturated fats cause heart disease and cancer. They are unaware that the
elevated proportion of Omega 3’s in organic and grass fed meat, dairy, eggs, coconut,
avocados and cooking oils are actually good for you and protective against
heart disease. They instead opt for supposedly “low-fat” factory-farmed foods
which are actually artery-clogging and conducive to obesity. The oils used in
fast-food are especially toxic.
Artificial sweeteners and low-calorie sodas are
good for you. Another myth based on science which, at best, could be called
outdated. The closer we stick to a diet of “real food” the better off we will
be. Even on an organic diet sugars of all types should be limited. Anything
artificial is not considered real food and is not healthy.
Fraudulent marketing, advertising, and
greenwashing in the marketplace. Marketing gimmicks abound for those Americans
seeking healthier choices. Many consumers equate “natural” with organic. Fruits
and vegetables are now commonly labeled “local” even when they are produced
with toxic chemicals and pesticides. The same goes for meat and chicken which
is still given antibiotics and is most-likely factory farmed. Many foods
labeled “non-GMO” are still full of pesticide laden produce. Advertising
wizards have perfected the art of turning our children into junk food addicts.
Almost everyone is brainwashed by thousands of commercials and ad images, and
food which is chemically mutated to trick our taste buds into believing that it
tastes better than the “real deal”.
Lack of money and time. Most Americans would
argue that they would like to eat organically. Yet, although most Americans are
suffering from obesity and diet-related health problems, they feel powerless to
change their eating habits or sedentary lifestyle. Organic foods do cost more
in the short term, but add up to reduced costs in health care. Like putting
good gas in your car to keep it running smoothly, organic food keeps the body
machine in good working condition. Other problems which prevent people from
organic food include basic standard of living conditions in a country where the
minimum wage is pitiful but the costs of rent, health care, higher education
and transportation are extremely high. The man or woman that works full-time
rarely has the time or energy to prepare a home-cooked meal or shop at the
farmers market. Raising the standard of living and increasing nutritional
awareness would do a lot for turning the public towards healthier foods.
Even though it’s
discouragingly slow, the organic movement is still on the upswing. As more and
more of the public become aware of the food culture in this country, the shift
will began to occur on its own. Just in the past ten years, farm to food
restaurants have become much more common and farmers markets are on the rise in
every city. Consciousness about GMO foods is increasing as folks become more
cognizant of the corporate take-over of American farming. It takes a long time
to turn this massive ship around but I, for one, am confident that we are
gradually making our way to a more sustainable future. Do not give up
Excerpted from Organic
Consumers Association article, “What’s Holding Back the Organic Revolution” by
Ronnie Cummins, August 20, 2014