Organic food is just straight up better for the environment, and many people believe that it is better for our health. It’s no wonder that the organic food industry is growing at an incredible rate. Behind this growth is an ever increasing consciousness about the benefits of sustainable food, and behind this consumer ethos is a group of powerful organic food advocates. It’s an ongoing effort for these organizations, and recent news highlight why their influence is needed. Here's an update:
In a recent article on Food Tank, Danielle Nierenberg and Emily Nink note that despite the growth of the organic industry, there is still a lot of consumer confusion about what the organic label actually means. For instance, there’s a large group of people who think that local food is automatically organic or that organic food is automatically local. There are also myths that organic food is not as economically competitive, which Nierenberg and Nink, quickly dispel:
A recent meta-analysis of 44 scientific studies by researchers from the Centre for Research on Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development shows that organic farming is not only environmentally sustainable, but also financially competitive when compared to conventional farming practices."
In fact, Nierenberg and Nink note the large room for growth in organic production—currently it accounts for only about one percent of U.S. cropland. For farmers, though, transitioning to organic production can be a challenge. For example, antibiotic free meat has been all the rage of late (eschewing the use of antibiotics is one of the stipulations for organic livestock production), but a recent Wall Street Journal article by David Kesmodel explains that in the cattle industry, ranchers are slow to change because of economic factors. Kesmodel reports that ranchers have a hard time changing to organic not only because of paperwork, audits, greater costs, and the long time period it takes to raise cattle, but also because of the current state of the meat market in the US:
And financial incentives for cattle ranchers to switch to natural production haven’t been strong because prices for conventional cattle and beef have surged in recent years, driven by prolonged drought in the Southern Plains that shrank the nation’s herd in 2014 to its smallest in six decades."
To complicate things even further, there is huge consumer demand for antibiotic-free meat and many companies are picking up on it. Most recently, causing some controversy in the sustainable food world, Niman Ranch (the pork company that supplies a lot of Chipotle’s antibiotic free pork) was purchased by Perdue, the poultry-mega-giant. Sustainable food advocates argue that this type of further consolidation of the U.S. meat market may cause problems with definitions of “sustainable meat.” On the other hand, creating a larger antibiotic free meat supply would be a great move for the health of our nation—A recent study found links between antibiotic use and type 2 diabetes risk, and another study found that most major restaurants are doing very little towards using antibiotic free meat.
So, as Nierenberg and Nink illustrate, creating a more sustainable food supply, especially with organic food production, requires analyzing the complicated economic and environmental interactions and coming up with solutions that will work for ranchers, environmentalists and (only in some cases) big food companies. They created a list of 19 organizations who are working towards these solutions and these are all groups that we should support. Many of these groups are attending the All Thing Organics Conference this week that is being sponsored by Organic Trade Association.It's a great list to browse through if you want to tour all that is right and good in the organic food world!
2. Eden Foods
5. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
6. The International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR)
12. The Organic Consumers’ Association
13. The Organic Federation of Australia
14. The Organic Federation of Canada
15. The Organic Growers School
16. Organic Valley
17. The Rodale Institute,
18. Soil Association
19. La Via Campesina
Take a look at recent news about antibiotics and
Image originally published on Tom's Foodie Blog
- 19 Organic Food Organizations and Businesses Working to Protect Consumers and the Global Environment via foodtank
- What the Sale of Niman Ranch Could Mean for Farmers via Civil Eats
- Beef's Meaty Profits Slow Effort to Boost Antibiotic-Free Production via The Wall Street Journal
- Researchers rate chain restaurants on antibiotic use: How does your favorite stack up? via The Washington Post
- Antibiotic Use Tied to Diabetes Risk via The New York Times