Organic farmers take up pitchforks against misleading corporate agriculture labeling

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Industrial agricultural firms that use the term “organic” to market huge harvests for big profits are finding some labeling gristle stuck in their craws. Small-scale farmers worry that the US Department of Agriculture, which regulates the labeling of food, is allowing Big Agriculture to destroy the integrity of organic farming laws that they have strived hard to create.

Powerful industrial producers are misleading the public through labels claiming products are “organic,” when historically the principles of the “organic label” symbolized a movement by small farming communities to reclaim traditional wholesome farming practices with the emphasis of preserving our environment and preserving soil integrity.

Most “organic” foods have fallen to mass production by corporate giants, according to a report by S.E. Smith for Care2. The methods of Big Ag do not meet the concepts of “traditional” or “wholesome” that many consumers rightly expect from food with an “organic” label. For example, industrial agriculture firms may label food “organic” although animal feeding is confined, and they use artificial fertilizers and nutrients associated with large scale hydroponic growth.

The dilution of “true organic” values is an example of corporations exercising their power and influence over the once wholesome organic food industry and federal regulators.

To combat these practices, small farmers are fighting back by proposing new organic standards that preserve the integrity of the original label with the Real Organic Project.  By banding together, they hope to bring back the true spirit of organic practices.

Though there has been some minor media coverage on the subject of organic agricultural practices, most fail to describe the influence exerted from large industrial producers over regulatory entities to mass produce and alter the original spirit of true organic practices.  Smith’s Care2 article highlights the central problem of the breach of organic laws by the industries, which raises concern for the USDA and small-scale farmers. The text explains ways through which the organic label is being downplayed and offers as a solution the “Real Organic Project” proposed by the small-scale farmers.

Source: S.E. Smith, “‘Real Organic’ Label Bites Back at Industrial Agriculture,” Care2, March 14, 2018, https://www.care2.com/causes/real-organic-label-bites-back-at-industrial-agriculture.html.

Student Researcher: L. Joseph Smith (Diablo Valley College)

Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)