COMMENTARY

Can “Big Organic” maintain integrity?
This reader has his doubts.

Posted June 8, 2006

 

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NF


As organic food is now set to hit the big time with venture-capital investors looking to make money, I'm concerned the organic standards will be compromised and become diluted or even misleading in some cases. When industrial organic takes over, they'll want to reduce standards to make more profit, making some producers bend the rules as far as possible. Look what they did to “conventional” food—produced a million products out of the cheapest ingredients (wheat, corn and sugar); some of these products even claim some special health benefits.

Industrial organic players have a completely different motivation and set of ethics, as they are backed by the same interests of conventional food marketing. Maybe they'll bring organics to the masses via the supermarkets, which would be a good thing, but perhaps at the cost of dividing the organic community or even taking it over and reinventing it. Tom's of Maine went under to Colgate; let's wait and see what they do with it…and how long will they carry the same integrity as Tom's, which built respect and trust with consumers.

The guardians of organics are the farmers; can they maintain integrity and control without being bullied by Wall Street into some sort of semi-organic industrial style production line with little concern for the environment or community? Or will “organic” be merely another corporate-owned business operating for maximum profit and continued growth?

Roderick Foster
New York