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 products:
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 verified.
Organic Without Breaking the Bank
"As soaring 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
Consumers interested 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 Issue page.