A report released by the Organic Center, an advocacy group, claims that organic foods are in fact more nutritious than their conventional counterparts. But the New York Times examines the truthiness of food claims like this one, and the recent claim that Yak cheese is much more nutritious than your average cheddar.
While the greater nutritional value of organics is debatable, there are myriad reasons to purchase them. When selecting organic foods, you're probably assuming that they are made with organic ingredients.
But the USDA has just renewed its approval of 46 non-organic ingredients that can go into organic foods.
You might be asking, wouldn't non-organic ingredients make a food conventional? Not necessarily. Foods that are 95% organic can be labeled organic if the remaining 5% of ingredients cannot be found in an organic form. These foods can still get the USDA Organic seal.
Take sausage casing: organic sausage can have a non-organic casing and still receive the USDA Organic label. (For more background on the issue, see our article When 'Organic' Doesn't Quite Mean Organic.)
Critics argue this waters down the meaning of organic and allows big business to cash in on the increasing demand for organic foods.
Check out the list of approved non-organic ingredients and the reasoning behind the decision.
Does this change your attitude toward organics?
One man recently made his feelings about organics loud and clear. In The Independent last week, Rob Johnston wrote about organic myths and how "organic foods are an indulgence the world can't afford." His "myths" include truths such as organic farming is good for the environment and the demand for organics is booming.
Fortunately, in today's Independent, a rebuttal argument was printed by Peter Melchett of the Soil Association correcting some of the errors Johnston made in his arguments, and clarifying other parts. For example, Johnston suggested a myth about organics was that organic farming doesn't use pesticides, but Melchett points out that organic farmers have never claimed this in the first place.
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