Turns out a lot of those organic vegetables, fruits and nuts we've been eating may not have been organic at all, not wholly.
An investigation by California has found that the supposedly organic fertilizer, made by California Liquid Fertilizer, and used by as many as one-third of California organic farms, was made with ammonium sulfate, a chemical fertilizer that is not approved for use in organic fertilizers. The scandal is detailed in the Sacramento Bee.
California is the nation's "salad bowl," with many of the fruits, nuts and vegetables particularly leafy greens sold across the U.S. originating there. Familiar grocery store brands like Earthbound Farm are among those that used the fertilizer, according to the Bee.
Chemical fertilizers take more energy and natural resources to produce than do organic fertilizers. They can ultimately damage the soils they are supposed to enrich.
Consumers can still be assured that these crops were grown without chemical pesticides, and that they we can hope adhered to all other standards. It was the fertilizer maker, not the farms, that perpetrated the fraud. But it wasn't "organic" not by the USDA's standards, and certainly not by the standards set by these farmers or their customers.
Consumers might not be satisfied, however, with the pace of the state investigation. It took three years to remove the product from the market, and the entire process was cloaked in secrecy. That's not right: Consumers depend on government oversight, particularly when it comes to third-party certification of food products like these. Lax oversight like this undermines the otherwise sterling reputation of the USDA Organic label.
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