Wow, so BJ's is selling half-gallons of USDA organic milk for 2.99 - great deal, right? 

You might want to think again.  'Organic' isn't what it used to be, not since the USDA took over the job of defining what the term means - in such a way as to allow the giants of industrial agriculture into the game without compromising their profits.  For instance, a few years ago, the USDA tried to modify the organic regulations to allow toxic sewage sludge, which has horrifying and documented ill health effects when used as fertilizer, to be used as just that - in USDA certified "organic" cultivation! 

"'To satisfy the agribusiness lobby, the new USDA in 2000 went out of its way to equate organic with conventional.  Then USDA Secretary Dan Glickman called the organic label a mere marketing tool.  'It is not a statement about food safety,' he said...'Nor is 'organic' a value judgment about nutrition or quality.'  Incidentally, Mr Glickman is now president of the Motion Picture Academy of America; one wonders if he declares that a movie is a movie is a movie.  Doubtful.'"  - Lorraine Dusky, writing for YogaPlus, March/April '07.

Clearly, the USDA has lost sight of the core values of organic cultivation and of the attributes of the foods produced by farmers who are committed to those values.  So how meaningful is the 'USDA Organic" seal?  And do those cheap 'organics' at Wal-Mart and other big-box stores, as well as other large grocery chains, actually measure up?  As organics go, the products look inexpensive, but are you getting what you think you're paying for?  Look again:

The Cornucopia Institute

Organic Consumers Association

Big box stores want you to think that they're your friends; they want you to believe that the reason their prices are lower is that they're cutting their margins so you can have the same quality for less.  They're not your friends, and you can't.  A half gallon of truly organically produced milk costs at least 3.99, and should. (At that price your local independent natural foods store is likely clearing just .39 from the sale.)  No one's getting rich at that price and no producer can meet the true standard of what 'organic' used to mean pre-USDA - sustainable, humane production - for less.

Don't be duped by the clever marketing tactics of industrial agriculture and the big chains.  It is important to buy organic as much as you can, but when you're making your selections, look for the seals of organic certifying organizations that have stayed true to the founding principles of organic agriculture, to produce wholesome, optimally nutritious food while treating workers ethically and animals humanely, in harmony with the natural environment, avoiding synthetic inputs, and improving the soil on which our lives depend.

More later...



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