That’s what the USDA is saying, anyway.
With the “USDA organic” seal stamped on its label, Anheuser-Busch calls its Wild Hop Lager “the perfect organic experience.” “In today’s world of artificial flavors, preservatives and factory farming, knowing what goes into what you eat and drink can just about drive you crazy,” the Wild Hop website says. “That’s why we have decided to go back to basics and do things the way they were meant to be … naturally.” But many beer drinkers may not know that Anheuser-Busch has the organic blessing from federal regulators even though Wild Hop Lager uses hops grown with chemical fertilizers and sprayed with pesticides. A deadline of midnight Friday to come up with a new list of nonorganic ingredients allowed in USDA-certified organic products passed without action from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, leaving uncertain whether some foods currently labeled “USDA organic” would continue to be produced.
Whatever you think about the virtues of organic food, this amounts to dilution of the label, misleading labeling, almost amounting to adulteration favoring the big boys at Anheuser-Busch and General Mills, ADM, etc. Knowing fully well that the average consumer has no time to read every frigging label behind every food item, knowing that they would see the “organic” label and assume that the whole thing is organic.
The USDA rules come with what appears to be an important consumer
protection: Manufacturers can use nonorganic ingredients only if
organic versions are not “commercially available.”
But food makers have found a way around this barrier, in part because
the USDA doesn’t enforce the rule directly. Instead, it depends on its
certifying agents — 96 licensed organizations in the U.S. and overseas
— to decide for themselves what it means for a product to be available
in organic form.
Despite years of discussion, the USDA has yet to provide certifiers with standardized guidelines for enforcing this rule.
Ah, good old ill-defined “voluntary enforcement” mechanisms, we all know how that works!
Why not have a second label “mostly organic”!! How about “I can’t believe this is organic!!”.
I think “mostly organic” food is still better than conventional factory food, but it should be labeled as such so the consumer can understand why General Mills “organic cereal” is 2 bucks less expensive than your average small organic manufacturer’s cereal. Absent honesty in labeling, the average customer is apt to assume that the factory approach is always superior because it produces the same goods at lower prices, instead of coming to the correct conclusion that the factory producers constantly rig the game to their benefit.