I have just returned from the Berkshires where I was assisting John Bagnulo in a “bootcamp” cleanse called Deep Spring Clean. Last week, in one of the classes, we were reviewing organic practices by the industry.
While many of us believe we are offering our families the best by buying organic, I caution against blindly purchasing a product because of the label that reads “organic”.
I’ll use Horizon as one example.
Horizon is owned by Dean Foods. Dean Foods is a $12B per year producer of dairy and related products. 80% of Dean’s revenue comes from the sales of conventional milk products. These products are sold under a wide variety of local, regional, and private brands.
Horizon makes it in the news on a regular basis for their shady practices. Not too long ago, there was an exposé on the organic “feed lot cattle” that was supplying the organic milk. Recently, Horizon has been found to be adding DHA to their Horizon Fat-Free Milk Plus DHA Omega-3. This contains a synthetic nutritional oil that does not appear on the National List of Approved Synthetic Substances for use in organic foods. While DHA may be a needed nutrient, this is just one more marketing scheme. But wait – what happened to the organic label?
In the class, I found it interesting that some folks thought that “natural” was a preferred term over “organic”. Organic foods must meet government standards to be certified. Natural is unregulated.
Silk brand is owned by Dean Foods and the brand is mostly conventional, not organic. The label has changed from organic to natural. If you go on to their web site, they say they are sourcing their soybeans from Conservation International that are produced in a sustainable, socially responsible and ethical manner. While even I would agree that this sounds good, I’m very skeptical. Whose interpretation is this? It is not certified humane or certified organic. It is no coincidence that this is so difficult to follow and understand!
And get this, they haven’t lowered their prices!
Read your labels and don’t be fooled by “added ingredients”. What may have been organic and clean last week, perhaps is not this week.
Products that meet the following criteria SHOULD meet the standards for organic labeling:
- products produced without pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and other drugs
- no genetically modified feed crops
- cows required to graze in pastures rather than confined to factory farm feedlots
These are all factors that truly differentiate organic production from natural/conventional agricultural and livestock production.
But, when it comes to how animals are raised, organic has nothing to do with it. Organic means that the animals were fed organic feed and that is all. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is determining what role pasturing plays in organic dairy farming.
Until then, choose the product that says “pastured” or “certified humanely raised”.