Friday, November 04, 2005

Organic questions

That the organic food rules make it onto a segment of the ABC World News Tonight tells us the topic has popular mass interest. Rule changes are pretty boring. But ABC reported that organic foods are now a $14.5 billion a year business.

Honestly, I don't know what practical effect the court ruling and the debate about the regulations has but it's obviously created some concern for someone. At stake at all times is the meaning of the term organic food.

I bet if you did a survey of people's attitudes, you'd find pretty favorable perceptions about organic food. You'd hear that it's healthier, higher quality and better for the environment. Probably the only negative thing people would report it that organic products are expensive.

Of course, I'm guessing at a survey outcome.

All that positive feeling is something you can take to the bank. Money, especially billions, gets the attention of the big food complex. Here is where the premise of organic production gets interesting. First of all, can organic farming methods serve a mass market? Many organic producers do claim comparable yields in certain crops. Secondly, can organic foods stand the mass processing and distribution system and stay organic? Space in supermarkets devoted to organic is expanding suggesting that the effort is being made to answer question two.

Without any recent interviews with organic producers under my belt, I'm guessing there's some conflict afoot. The higher prices paid for organic production has helped draw a steady stream of farmers into the endeavor. While organic pioneers were out to make a statement and save the world, many people converting to organic methods are now looking at the extra money.

If organic methods became universally used, you'd be inclined to think that'd be a great thing for everyone assuming everyone's perceptions of the value of organic food are truthful.

What's true here and what's simple assumption? On top of that, you have to have some agency constantly and honestly upholding standards.

Another question for you. Does organic farming want to become mainstream?

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