How important is organic to you?


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How important is organic to you?

Postby Charles » Jan 22nd, '10, 11:58

I've written an article on the pros and cons of organic tea production (http://www.tearetailer.com/article_31.html). In short, I believe in the drive for environmental sustainable agricultural practices but am wary of the impact of the certification bureaucracies on small farmers, and believe the rules and regulations still leave a lot of room for improvement.

I'm curious how important "buying organic" is to you? What percentage of the tea you buy today is organic? Finally, how important is organic to you in other foods you buy? (Meat, cheese, produce, wine, etc.?)
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby LauraW » Jan 22nd, '10, 12:34

Organic really has very little impact for me. Honestly, I'd rather see Fair Trade products.
Charles wrote:In short, I believe in the drive for environmental sustainable agricultural practices but am wary of the impact of the certification bureaucracies on small farmers, and believe the rules and regulations still leave a lot of room for improvement.

I can agree with this; sustainable is good, but at what cost to the small farmers? Also (and I know that this isn't the case, I just find it amusing), "organic" just sounds like a ploy - "Oh no, I must get organic food; I wonder what I ate yesterday, since it was apparently inorganic!" What'd they do, make bananas out of copper or iodine?
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby Chip » Jan 22nd, '10, 13:27

Don't get me started ... this subject in the most broad sense makes my head hurt.

I am on the verge of paranoia at times. We live in a an imperfect world full of those who would sooner line their pockets with gold rather than always do what is right. Every country has its flaws albeit, but China has at times scared me from drinking Chinese tea, certified organic or not.

In the world today, I often feel I have to stick my head in the ground and proclaim ignorance is bliss since the alternative is often so full of sacrifice and a major consumption of time and mental energy.

Still, I am committed to exploring the world of organic tea. However, the organic cert process is flawed, but so is the fair trade cert process. But this does not mean I give up on either, just hope for a better tomorrow.

The domestic tea market needs to come up with a better way of testing imports. A true story ... a tea exporter in China had a tea rejected by a German importer's lab which is not surprising given how stringent Germany is on imports. The Chinese exporter simply turned around and dumped it on American markets. And had no problem doing so ... morally or otherwise.
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby olivierco » Jan 22nd, '10, 14:06

Charles wrote:I'm curious how important "buying organic" is to you? What percentage of the tea you buy today is organic? Finally, how important is organic to you in other foods you buy? (Meat, cheese, produce, wine, etc.?)


Quite all the food I buy is organic and if possible locally produced. I have the chance having nearby some stores selling really good tasting organic food. However if a produce is good and has no organic equivalent, I buy it. It happens mostly for cheese, meat, seafood, ovomaltine, nutella...

For tea, I buy mostly non organic teas because it is difficult to find organic teas matching the taste of non organic teas.
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby Chip » Jan 22nd, '10, 14:09

Oh, percentages ... not really looking at it from a percentage basis, more from an opportunity basis. When opps come along that sound appealing and/or promising, I give it a try. Depends a lot on the vendor making the offer.

I have noticed organics from Japan have been getting much better! Or at least they are now finally becoming more available to the west.

Organic foods ... well, tea is definitely my number one consumed food product by far, so I have looked in this direction quite seriously.

I have always tried to make healthy food buying decisions though not often organic. Local produce and domestic produce (versus imports from Chile, etc) have always been a priority.

I am much more focused on healthy food decisions versus organic.
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby virago_ns » Jan 22nd, '10, 14:15

I personally support the "organic movement" and will opt for organic products over non-organic given the choice, even for a higher price. The same applies for fair trade. The system may be flawed, but the more people demand it, the more it'll be fine tuned.
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby gingkoseto » Jan 23rd, '10, 12:52

I buy some organic food but obviously can't afford all of them. I grew up in a community where there was almost no "inorganic" food. Maybe that's my source of a hint of anger. I feel our society first allowed harmful, unnatural food to invade freely, then "re-discovered" organic food and restrict it to rich people. Buying organic only makes me feel I am paying for more safety in a unsafer society, and I know many people can't afford the payment. I hope organic movement doesn't stay at market level, but eventually cause the government to ban more unnatural, unsafe food materials.

As for tea, I don't care much about organic. In China many famous production regions (such as Anxi and Wuyi) have strict policies about fertilizer and pesticide, but some mass production regions don't. I believe buying from central production region is very important. This could be a problem for buyers because many tea products are not labeled with production region, sometimes not specific enough.
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby Charles » Jan 23rd, '10, 14:54

In response to ginko: As long as organic agriculture is significantly more expensive than conventional methods I'm afraid we'll be stuck with higher prices. It's also worth noting that the drivers behind the creation of organic standards had nothing to do with consumer safety and everything to do with environmental sustainability. Conventional farming methods in the US ARE heavily regulated and the final product is, in many cases, tested.

One interesting side debate... there have been quite a few studies by pretty progressive scientists with the UN and World Health Organization that suggest that if Organic agriculture were to be mandated internationally the reduction in output would cause millions to starve. I'm all for banning dangerous pesticides and fertilizers, but there are a lot of conventional farming techniques for which there is no scientific evidence of any harm to people or the environment. We may be over-reaching when we reject anything that isn't "natural". Progress in chemistry are responsible for a great deal of our current wealth and comfort. According to a recent report on the environmental impact of various countries, those doing the LEAST damage to the earth are Afghanistan and Somalia. We need to find a balance... I must admit I have no idea where that balance is. :)
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby Chip » Jan 23rd, '10, 17:36

BTW, excellent article, Charles.

You hit the nail on the head, and I have been saying this for years, final product testing is insufficient for organic (and conventionally) grown ag products ...and on topic, tea!
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby tatsumi09 » Jan 31st, '10, 10:54

I never ever consider if the tea is organic or not when I buy. I simply go with what people recommend and what my tongue tells me after I drink the tea. I once bought an "organic" labeled green tea from a chinese mart and threw it away in a matter of seconds because the taste was horrible.

Organic has zero importance to me, flavor is what I find important. (I don't even know if an organic labeled tea is real, so I don't want to even bother)
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby TeaPeople » Mar 4th, '10, 01:51

It is important to buy from growers, distributors and retailers that you trust, regardless of the certification!


This is probably the best advice. Take a look at the companies you buy tea from. What are their policies?

I buy organic when available and prefer it. It's not a perfect system but at least for now it is something to go on. Knowing, asking, finding out where the tea comes from, about the conditions, etc is the best way to find out if it is sustainable or not and if it's safer.
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby iannon » Mar 4th, '10, 02:23

My family is quite health conscious so Organic foods always get a first look over conventional. espcially with certain fruits and veggies. More so though we look to local, sustainable farms for our goods. We have for the last 4 years, from Spring to late fall, picked up a bushel of veggies a week from a local farm. While they are not "certified" organic. we know their methods are essentially the same as if they were..plus they are super great peeps.lots of yummy fresh goat cheese from them too.
no tea though.... :roll:
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby desdemona1230 » Mar 12th, '10, 00:57

It's pretty important to me. I wish Adagio offered more organic options. I would be willing to pay more if there was an organic line established. It seems especially important with tea because we don't wash off the leaves before brewing them like we do with fruit and vegetables.
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby AdamMY » Mar 12th, '10, 09:39

desdemona1230 wrote:It's pretty important to me. I wish Adagio offered more organic options. I would be willing to pay more if there was an organic line established. It seems especially important with tea because we don't wash off the leaves before brewing them like we do with fruit and vegetables.


We don't?

:oops: I've been doing Gong fu wrong for years! :oops:

In some tea prep you do end up washing off the leaves, but I understand your point, and I'm personally not that picky over organic vs non-organic, while I like the idea of organics, I do not see the need to only drink organic teas.
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Re: How important is organic to you?

Postby gingkoseto » Mar 12th, '10, 11:28

It seems especially important with tea because we don't wash off the leaves before brewing them like we do with fruit and vegetables.


I don't wash fruits and vegetables as thoroughly as a girlfriend of mine. And I am often too lazy to peel apples before eating. If I get richer, I plan to buy more organic fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, as I read somewhere, many agricultural chemicals disintegrated in several days to a few weeks. In this sense tea may be even safer than fruits and vegetables. However, fruits and vegetables should be safe enough since there are regulations that they shouldn't be sprayed certain days before harvest, and, if the fruits are not treated for preservation purposes between harvest and selling.
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