Poohblah wrote:Even in the US, a USDA "organic" label may not mean all that you think it means. There is a revolving door between food industry executive positions and USDA regulatory positions, which causes restrictions to be rather loose and contain many loopholes. For instance, meat and eggs from "organic" chickens still come from big indoor factory farms with crowded, unsanitary conditions. It really depends on the product, some "organic" things are certainly produced more "naturally" or "traditionally" or "family-farm" style than others.
I don't think that's so much a problem with the label or the standard, but rather that people somehow have unrealistic expectations about the organic label. The label does not claim
to prove that something is healthy or humane, or more sanitary -- just that it meets a certain set of conditions. There are all these misguided studies showing that (big surprise) organic food doesn't have more nutrients than conventional produce. While in some cases organic food might
be more healthful or more humanely produced than conventional food, I don't think that's something that the label either states or implies.
Yes, plenty of "organically grown" food is produced by large farms. If supporting small farmers is your concern, it's obviously better to try to buy from CSAs and farmers markets, and to do your own due diligence to make sure that you're actually getting what you think you're getting. Some people are not concerned about eating produced produced using pesticides and chemical fertilizer, and those people should by all means continue buying and eating conventionally produced products.
But I think that overall, the USDA does a good job with its organic certification standards - there are probably some loopholes, but overall, you can be pretty certain that what you're getting meets their standards.
And, for folks who are concerned about humane treatment of animals, there are some new standards (some better than others) which help to provide a little more transparency into the relative treatment of animals in various conditions. However, there's obviously still a long way to go here.