Organic fruits

Photo by Wendell

Out of various places I’ve been to it is nowhere more apparent that “organic” produce will soon eclipse the non-organic food. People are happy to pay premium for the label, and farmers with producers are paying certification authorities for the privilege to put the sticker and boost the sales. Organic food is an enormous market. Only the US was estimated at $39Bn in 2014, and the world is almost twice bigger.

Many dietologists, health professionals, doctors, and retailers claim that such food is healthier than its counterpart. Yet as of today there has not been a comprehensive study that could claim the food grown without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or herbicides is healthier or better in any way.

Interestingly, sometimes plants develop natural toxins to scare off the pests. There would be no or less need to increase the amount of toxins if pesticides were used. Alternatively nicotine, the chemical compound that has been widely studied and is considered poisonous to humans, is allowed and used in organic gardening. Yet pesticides which are actually safer are banned.

But what exactly is “organic”? Can you consider a cake mix to be organic if it contains chemicals like xanthan gum or baking powder? Can you call chemicals organic? These kind of loopholes in the definition make it possible to sell an absolutely casual product at a premium price.

When I first registered the company and started looking for suppliers, I considered certifying my products. This willingness increased when I was prohibited to sell Mellis Berry honey delights on one of the local markets. Even though it touted itself as a market for small producers and farmers, one needs to be certified. And the process of receiving a label is very expensive for a small business.

In the end I decided against any kind of certificates or labels, at least for now. I am trying to make my products as transparent as possible. Each jar has a history, a human face where possible. You always know where the specific ingredient came from and when it was harvested. I think this knowledge is more precious than overhyped “organic” these days.

References

  1. Modernist Cuisine, Vol. 1, p. 245
  2. Don’t worry, it’s organic“, Chemistry World, June 2004
  3. Some pesticides permitted in organic gardening