A friend sent me this video this morning. (Thank you Claudia : )) In the following video the newscaster asks, “Organic is more expensive. But it’s worth it. Right?” I suppose that really depends. If you value your health, the health of those around the world who work to give you the food on your plate, and the health of generations to come. Then YES IT IS WORTH IT!
In watching this video we need to ponder
1. Why did the newscasters attempt to turn “Whole Foods Organic 365 comes from China” into a point against organic food?
2. Could this investigation be funded by one of the other grocery lines or another competitor?
3. Why didn’t the investigator do his/her research and read the statements on the Whole Foods site?
4. Note: Interesting that they focus on whether the USDA Organic certification in China is valid more than they focus on the carbon footprint.
5. Am I going to turn against Whole Foods because of a poorly investigated report?
In my humble opinion Whole Food strives valiantly and there is no effort without error or shortcoming. They fight for a worthy cause.
Statement by Whole Foods:
“Update: June 13, 2010
Since I wrote this post about two years ago, we’ve had a few changes and I wanted to make sure anyone reading this is up to speed on current information.
As of this summer (2010), we are no longer sourcing any of our Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value food products from China EXCEPT for frozen edamame (shelled and unshelled, organic and conventional). This means that out of more than 2,000 365 Everyday Value products right now, only ten are from China. These products include tea and frozen vegetables. We will be selling through the remaining stock of six of those over the summer, and the edamame will be the only one remaining at that time…
You can read more about some of the specific ways we make sure our organic private label products from China meet our standards here. Read on past the fold for more information about how U.S. law applies to organics grown outside the U.S., and what some experts see as opportunities to strengthen the system.
One popular misconception out there is that organic food grown in another country is grown according to that country’s rules (or lack of rules). That’s just not true. Anyone growing food that’s going to be sold as organic in the U.S. is required to follow the U.S. standards and be certified by a USDA accredited certifier. A number of internationally-based certifiers are accredited by the USDA, and many U.S.-based certifiers have employees on the ground in other countries.
To help understand just how certification works on the ground in China, I talked to Jeff See, Executive Director of The Organic Crop Improvement Association(OCIA), one of the major U.S. certifiers working in China. “We follow the same system anywhere in the world. There are language differences, but we use translators and native speakers.
Scrutiny is a good thing.
Organic certification in China obviously raises some serious questions. While there’s definitely a system of oversight in place, pollution and lack of transparency in China is just cause to look very closely at all food from China, organic or otherwise. As I mentioned, we’ve gone to great lengths to make sure the organic private label products we import from China meet our own standards and the National Organic Standards. Our buyers and auditors visit the farms and facilities we buy from, and we have created testing protocols that test for pesticide and heavy metal residues. Our quality systems and test results suggest that the organic certification process is working well for these products.
So, to (longwindedly) answer the question, “Can organic products from China truly be organic?” We’ve found that they can, but we’ve also found that the question requires and deserves lots of scrutiny. I expect that this same question will be receiving a lot of attention in the coming months from organic shoppers, the media, non-profit groups and the USDA, and this increased scrutiny and accountability will hopefully lead to improved trust in organic products from the U.S. and around the globe.
But, in the meantime, we at Whole Foods Market aren’t waiting. We’ve been taking extra steps to make sure our organic products from all over the world are organic, and now we’re launching a new level of transparency about our products, where we get them, and how evaluate them.