Daily News Archive
January 13, 2006
Union Makes Organic Recommendations
(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2006) An investigation
for the February 2006 issue of "Consumer
Reports" makes recommendations on when it is most important
for shoppers to buy organic foods from the perspective of a personal
health benefit. Beyond Pesticides recommends buying organic whenever
possible. Aside from consumer health issues, organic agriculture benefits
the health of farmworkers and those who live near farms, as well as
contributing to a cleaner environment.
Among some of the
recommendations "Consumer Reports" gives shoppers about organic
- Organic products
worth buying to avoid chemicals found in the conventionally produced
versions: Fruits and vegetables, such as apples, bell peppers, celery,
cherries, spinach, and strawberries. The USDA's own lab testing reveals
that even after washing, some fruits and vegetables consistently carry
much higher levels of pesticide residue than others. Meats, poultry,
eggs, and dairy products are also worth seeking out.
- Organic products
worth buying only if price is no object, include: processed foods
and certain produce items, such as: cauliflower, sweet corn, broccoli,
mangos, and sweet peas. Multiple pesticide residues are, in general,
rarely found on conventionally grown versions of these fruits and
vegetables, according to research by the Environmental Working Group
- Organically labeled
items not worth buying include seafood and cosmetics. Whether caught
in the wild or farmed, fish can be labeled organic, despite the presence
of contaminants such as mercury and PCBs. The USDA has not yet developed
organic certification standards for seafood. And while the USDA claims
that organic labeled-cosmetics follow the same standards as food,
Consumer Reports has found indiscriminate use of synthetic ingredients
and violations of food-labeling standards.
The article also
found that because of inconsistent and often weak government standards,
organic-sounding labels could be confusing to consumers and even meaningless
on some products due to lack of enforcement. Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D.,
Environmental Health Scientist at Consumers Union, publisher of "Consumer
Reports," says, "Not all organic products are created equal.
It is important that consumers know where their organic dollars spent
meet their expectations and where they don't."
Even among the most
meaningful and verified organic labels, there are subtle but important
differences. If a product is labeled "organic," at least 95
percent of its ingredients must be organically produced. There is one
important exception, however: organic labels on seafood are meaningless
because the U.S. Department of Agriculture has no standards to back
them up. Also meaningless is the label "natural" or "all
natural." No standard definition for these terms exists except
when it's applied to meat and poultry products, which the USDA defines
as not containing any artificial flavoring, colors, chemical preservatives,
or synthetic ingredients, and even those claims are not independently
Breaking the Bank
consumer demand for organic brings more big players into the industry,
organic standards are under attack, so it's more important than ever
to know how to prioritize your spending to get the biggest bang for
your buck," says Andrea Rock, senior editor at "Consumer Reports."
The experts at "Consumer
Reports" found many ways to save when buying organic, including
- Comparison shop
-- Doing price checks for regularly purchased organic items pays off:
"Consumer Reports" found the price for the same jar of organic
baby food ranged from 69 cents to $1.29 among several grocery stores
in the suburban New York City area.
- Go local -- Find
organic growers at most farmers' markets. A USDA study in 2002 found
that about 40 percent of those farmers don't charge a premium.
- Join the farm
team -- By buying a share in a community- supported organic farm consumers
may get a weekly supply of produce in season for less than non-organic
- Order by mail
-- National providers will ship items such as organic beef http://www.mynaturalbeef.com.
Other helpful sites are http://www.eatwellguide.org
in learning more about the health and environmental benefits of organic
foods can visit http://www.GreenerChoices.org.
Information about food labels is available at http://www.eco-labels.org.
Also see Beyond Pesticides Organic