Integrative Health Blog

The Dark Side of the Organic Food Industry: Is 'Organic' the Best Available?

Posted by admin on Mon, Oct 22, 2012

Jody Jung RN, CHC


          The organic food industry is absolutely BOOMING! According to findings from an Organic Trade Association survey, the organic industry grew by 9.5 percent overall in 2011 to reach $31.5 billion in sales. Yes, that’s BILLION with a ‘B’ so in case it slipped past you, just know that this type of growth is truly impressive! 

          With this impressive growth in organic sales, one might be lead to think that  Americans would be eating healthier. Or that animals are being treated and fed better. Or that farmland will once again be fertile and nutrient dense. But let’s take a look at this new organic trend and see what’s really happening.

          So, does eating organic food really equate to healthy food? Unfortunately, simply switching from conventionally produced foods to organic foods is just not enough to ensure the foods we’ll be consuming are actually healthy. So, while looking for foods that are labeled organic is definitely the way to go, this is really only the beginning.   

          While it’s true that organic food is produced with higher quality ingredients, no pesticides, no high fructose corn syrup, no GMOs, all of which are certainly critically important to your health, there’s another side to organic that most people are unaware of. Because of certain loopholes in our current organic standards, many of the foods that actually wind up on our dinner tables leave much to be desired.         

          One example of this are the organic standards employed for raising animals. Most people buying organic meats make an assumption that the meat will be healthier for them and that the animals being cared for better because of the organic standards. To some lesser degree, this may true, but unfortunately, the guidelines leave many ‘loopholes’ that producers oftentimes exploit to increase their profit margins while decreasing the quality of the food. 

The SECRET The “Organic” Meat Industry Is Keeping From You

          We’re given the illusion that chickens and cows are roaming around free all day on beautiful farms. And while this may be true on some privately owned, small family farms, the truth is that most organic meat actually comes from factory farms.

          So when it comes to purchasing and consuming animal proteins the questions we really need to be asking ourselves are: Do we know our farmers and how their animals are raised or what they’re fed?  Are we really sure we can trust the source where our meat comes from? How can we really really be sure? Let’s take a look at some of the organic standards and see how they measure up to our expectations. And if you’re like me, these definitely won’t measure up to what you might expect from organic farming.

Examples of our current questionable organic standards include:

          *No hormones or antibiotics -- While it’s true that no hormones or antibiotics can be given, vaccines and medications can be administered.

          *Access to outdoors and sunshine -- This is the standard, but it does not state how much time and animals have no minimum required amount of time to be spent outdoors.  As long as a door is open and the animal, let’s say a chicken in this example, can get outside if it chooses, the standard is met.

          *“Organic” chickens can be bought from conventional farms in their first day of life. So the question begs to be asked: what effect will being born to an unhealthy, conventionally raised mother chicken have on the baby chick and will feeding the new baby organically grown foods be enough to change that negative impact?

          *All feed and grain must be organic-- While this is true, and it is a step in the right direction, the standards do not require animals to be fed their natural diet, as in the case of cows. Grains are NOT the natural diet of cows, so even if it’s organic, it is not good for the cow and produces lower levels of Omega 3s and CLA.

          One more thing to look at here is the so-called organic companies that are producing organic foods. Did you know that many of organic food producers are owned by mega food companies like Kelloggs and Kraft? For instance, ever had an Odwalla smoothie? If you have, you might want to be aware that Odwalla is owned by Coca Cola. Naked Juice is owned by Pepsi. Cascadian Farms and Muir Glen are owned by General Mills.

Click this link to see a chart outlining who owns which organic companies.

What To Do If You’re Feeling A Bit Betrayed    

          How are you feeling about all the news about 'organic' now? A little surprised and maybe disappointed? I know when I first learned the truth, it really came as a surprise to me.  I really hadn’t known how many loopholes existed that were allowing my ‘healthy organic foods’ to be less than I imagined! 

          Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly not trying to be negative or condemn the organic industry. I eat organic and am thrilled that we have so many more organic options these days. I’m also excited that more people are eating organic and focusing on their health. I just think we should all have the opportunity to really know the truth and realize we still have a long way to go.

          So, if you’re like me, than you too will want to know where your food comes from, if the source can be trusted, and that the producers are actually concerned about our health, the animal’s well being and the sustainability of the planet.

Jody Jung, RN, CHC, is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Health Coach.  She is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  By overcoming her own challenges with Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome and intestinal dysbiosis, Jody has become an expert in guiding her clients who are on a similar healing journey.  As a Mission Marketer for the Beyond Organic community, she’s dedicated to helping people find the very best foods in the world to aid them in achieving optimal health.

Topics: organic food, natural products