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Organic? Cheap? Local? What’s the most important to you? - Page 2post #22 of 511/25/13 at 6:41am
Hey ladies, this is a common misconception that organic must be GMO free. It is in the standards that they can not contain any GMO ingredients BUT (and here's the loop hole), the standards do not require testing. This took me a while to get my head around but I am not making this up. The Non-GMO Project (which is the only verification body in the United States) has this to say in their verification FAQ:
"Why should I enroll if my products are already USDA certified organic?
While the National Organic Program (NOP) identifies genetic modification as an excluded method, GMOs are not a prohibited substance. This means that although GMO seeds are not supposed to be planted, and GMO ingredients are not supposed to be used, no testing is required. These rules were established at a time when GMOs were in limited production, and accidental contamination was not a significant risk. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. With the majority of key crops like soy and corn being planted with GM varieties in North America, contamination of seeds, ingredients, and products is a real risk, even for certified organic products. The good news is that the NOP has excellent guidelines for traceability and segregation, and the Non-GMO Project is designed to honor the work that certified organic companies are already doing, with the added measure of testing risk ingredients at critical control points. Many founding members of the Non-GMO Project are the leaders of organic companies. These pioneers understand that protecting the long-term integrity of organic products, starting at the seed level, requires that they be protected from GMO contamination, which can only be done with testing."
I added the underline. I have been researching this quite some time now. This is a common misconception. I have talked to a number of different organic farmers (2 dairy's) as well as a few seed companies (High Mowing and Baker Creek being two) and they are all aware that GMO's are not tested for in the organic industry. Jack at Butterworks farm was very animated (and frustrated) about the whole thing. His wife shared his opinion and frustration. If you don't believe me, call some companies. If you have livestock, call the feed company you get your organic grains from. If you buy organic corn during the summer talk to the farmer. Ask them if they test their corn (or get tested seed). If you have pets, call your food company and ask them. I think you will be surprised, shocked and dismayed at the answer. I was. Part of the problem is it is a common misconception in our country that organic means GMO free and these two are not mutually exclusive.
Here are a few more resources:
http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/ (tip number one states that certified organic can not "intentionally" contain GMO ingredients - refer to the previous article stating that organic is process driven)
If you are going to rely on the organic label (and I wanted to go into a whole soap box here...) make sure it says 100% organic and read this article as it's pretty well done. http://mamanatural.com/how-to-avoid-gmos/
Please note, there is no benefit in me making this stuff up. I am not interested in disinformation. What I am interested in true knowledge and not being lied to. I'm a mom who went to school to be a Biologist. I worked in the vet field and have seen compromised food kill animals. I have read a lot about the conventional farming industry. I have even come across information/documentation from midwives in other countries (don't have this article handy) who are seeing women consuming GMO soy having higher complication rates and damaged placenta's. I now have a small farm and source the best that I can find (for my pets as well and this is no small task). I talk to the feed companies. I research like crazy and I run into disinformation, incomplete information and out right lies doing this. I advocate doing your research and asking questions, not relying on someone else to do it for you because as much as it stinks, absolute power (money) corrupts absolutely. And there is a lot of money flying around in these industries. Just think about how much of a battle it was for rBGH to get labeled. There are scientists being bought off as there is very little private money anymore. They are academics and if they want to keep getting their funding they are asked to alter their research in the favor of the funding body (usually corporate) or in favor of not being published so it doesn't make it into the public eye.
namastepost #23 of 511/25/13 at 8:30am
I don't think you are making it up. It is an important point to be made. When they start requiring testing, that will honor the intent of the no-GMO rule for being certified organic. There is a lot of pressure on the USDA to stay liberal regarding GMOs, and I remember that it was a hot-button issue when the rules for certified organic were being formulated in the first place, along with pasture for dairy cows, and other issues that were getting a lot of industry pressure.post #24 of 511/25/13 at 8:49ampost #25 of 511/25/13 at 9:01am
aaaaaaah GreenVariety - what you say makes sense.
so if something was certified organic 10 years ago are they being tested every year.
unfortunately no - its not just corn and soy. its tomatoes, grapes and some others.
so the chance of cross pollination or even ingredients is definitely a possibility.
the home of corn - mexico hardly has any non GMO corn varieties left. or should i say maize. in fact i dont know if there is any now. i knew 10 years ago GMOs made it to the high mountains - the last vestige of nonGMO corn.post #26 of 511/25/13 at 9:18ampost #27 of 511/25/13 at 10:51am
Certified organic does not get tested for GMO's annually. They have requirements and visits from the USDA Organic body that they have to meet standards for but as I said previously it's "process driven." There is no testing required for GMO's. I wish it weren't so, but sadly it is. This is why GMO's are showing up in organics. This is why GMO soy was being sold into the feed industry as "organic" and the thing that got them caught was the price tag (they were selling much lower then everyone else). I can't find the article now though... grrr...
I did find this one. Note that they say the farmer is testing his grains (at his own risk because they sit when they are determined to be contaminated).
As far as "talk to the farmers" I have. I am a farmer myself (although very small). I have talked to the owner of Butterworks Farm (a huge Jersey Dairy in New England that ships products to health food stores all over the east coast - says he was the first certified organic dairy in the US). I have talked to seed companies. I have talked to feed companies. I have talked to other dairies. I have talked to pet food companies. I dealt with a small grain elevator in PA directly and had to inform the owner that his product labeled "soy-free" and GMO free was in fact soy containing and GMO containing. He wasn't aware that lecithin was from soy... or molasses is often produced from GMO-sugar beets (and subsequently nutritional yeast is often grown on sugar beet molasses -- and sold in health food stores).
A lot of farmers are choosing (consciously) not to become certified organic. A prime example is Joel Salatin (huge food/farm speaker/writer/activist). He was asked to sit on the organic board (if memory serves) when it was first established but foresaw the flaws (like a Driscoll marketing agent sitting in one of the farm seats and carrageenan becoming an approved organic ingredient -- been a while since I read about that one, nearly a year). They are making this choice partly because of the cost which is prohibitive to many. I have a friend that has an organic blueberry field. She uses all organic practices but can't get organic pricing and can't afford to become certified organic. She is not the exception. I personally will never become certified organic. For me it's just another hoop with very few benefits that I would have to jump through. I could get higher prices at market theoretically but I can also get those by growing pastured meats and offering a product that is verified GMO free (with the first feed company becoming Non-GMO Project Verified, this is a real, viable possibility). I also think a lot of the organic standards are below my personal standards. For instance, with organic you are allowed to spread ANY chicken manure (even conventional) as a fertilizer. And it's not uncommon for organic farms to spread conventional chicken manure as a fertilizer. Gross...yes, I think so. The standards aren't perfect and there are many loop holes that you don't learn about until you start researching it/living it.
Also there are a lot of farmers in "transition" which takes 3 years. But this is strictly procedural. They have to have organic practices on their farm for 3 years (meeting the organic certification standards) before becoming certified organic. As long as they purchase their seed from a company that is "certified organic" their seed is never tested. Because it is "to their knowledge" certified organic.
Sorry! I hope this doesn't ruin anyone's day!!
really good article (and I usually shy away from mainstream media as it's full of disinformation and press releases by huge corporations) - http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/business/organic-food-purists-worry-about-big-companies-influence.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
another article - http://www.non-gmoreport.com/articles/jun07/organic_soybeans.phppost #28 of 511/25/13 at 11:29am
Oh, and no I was not saying all corn and soy are GMO. That being said, my feed company searched for a year and was unable to find Non-GMO Sugar Beets... I have shied away from those and any molasses that isn't exclusively from sugar cane since finding that out.
It is possible to find non-GMO of these items but I wouldn't go buy bulk grains of either corn or soy without having a good long chat with the producer/distributor either. Baker Creek has been testing their seeds (for planting) for 8 years and only has 11 varieties of corn that is testing clean in this years catalog (they have found). My feed company also has a source of feed corn as they are Non-GMO Project Verified for all their regular Chicken and Turkey rations. So they do exist. But certified organic does not guarantee they are clean unfortunately.post #29 of 511/25/13 at 7:00pm
yes i would go as far as to say all corn (havent checked on soy lately but reason might be teh same) is GMO. HOWEVER what does that mean. not that it may not be grown from GMO corn, but it could be contaminated. here it is from the horses mouth. http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5090396As long as an organic operation has not used excluded methods and takesreasonable steps to avoid contact with the products of excluded methods asdetailed in their approved organic system plan, the unintentional presence ofthe products of excluded methods should not affect the status of the organicoperation or its organic products.pek on another thread u aroused my curiosity. i could not find any beans easily which had not been processed in a non soy facility.however let me say one thing. i fully support research in GMO. it is something that is present in nature. bug eats crop - curls up and dies. but we are no where near to even understand how that happens. maybe in one or two hundred years we will finally figure out GMO the right way. not today. not now. we just dont know enough about how our body works.post #30 of 511/26/13 at 8:10am
Not all corn is GMO. I get feed corn that is not contaminated. Baker Creek seeds (rareseeds.com) has several varieties that are testing clean and with corn it's a protein that is in the dust so if there is GMO dust present (even through transport) the testing should show a positive. The guys I get my feed from had a truck test positive at the bottom and clean at the top. The truck hadn't been cleaned properly.
As far as what's taking place in nature, it's not genetic modification. It's survival of the fittest and generally takes place through a mutant (favorable) gene. It is selected for over many many years because those plants/animals survive and thrive while others don't (and reproduce passing that gene onto the next generation). You see it in humans, plants, animals...it's part of nature, but almost always starts as a mutation. It has nothing to do with scientists combining their theories and different species (or genus for that matter) in a lab environment. This is something that would never take place in nature (and why sterile generation 1's are produced when crosses happen - if they are capable of reproducing together at all, like seedless fruit or mules). Corn wouldn't splice itself with Bt to form a toxin. Hybridization is much, much similar to what takes place in nature but through human intervention and intensive selection (how we have so many different breeds of dogs and cats..or tomatoes for that matter). That is why this last spring there were cow's dropping from cyanide poisoning in Texas (and other drought ridden states), because of a hybrid Tifton grass that when stressed produces cyanide. It's a hybrid, not a genetic modification (but is also not what would generally take place in nature as the grasses were from two different continents).
These two terms are thrown around a lot and I think part of it is to confuse people but they are very different. Hybrids are the result of a natural genetic modification (through intensive selection), yes, but they are not a genetic modification in the sense that we are speaking of here (where labs, and completely unnatural crosses which are impossible in nature are taking place). If you read the research that was carried out by the one researcher who has done this (independently) in Europe, Arpad Pusztai, as well as his account you see that he came to the conclusion that it is not the GM seed (in his case a potato that was crossed with a human safe lectin) but in fact the lab process that makes the end result dangerous.
Perhaps in 200 years we will understand the process. I think there are many, many better ways to feed starving nations. Many of these nations would rather starve then receive our genetically modified products. Genetic modification holds the key to a lot, a ridiculous amount really, of money and guaranteed profits as the companies that hold the seed patent also hold the chemical that must be used...post #31 of 511/26/13 at 12:20pmQuote:
going further off topic, i think the gap is closing as more and more species have access to others due to globalization and the world is looking more and more different as time passes. the same plant could be a weed in one continent and being saved at another as a native.
i dont understand all the terms. i think research is important to understand things - and keep profit out of it (HAH!!!). i think GMO is important to understand the process of hybridization. you know like a child mixing things and realizing that those two dont mix well coz they produce a dangerous product which looks alright.
and yes the people who do eat corn around me here - do so locally that they pick up from the farmers they know (from farms who dont bring in GMO feed).post #32 of 511/26/13 at 1:53pmI haven't been able to find beans I can eat, yet. I've purchased organic beans, and will plant them when I have a yard, to grow my own. I sure miss beans.
All this info is interesting, and I apologize for stealing the thread and taking us off topic. I am going to continue to buy what I've been buying the past year, until I have time to do more research. I'm not having reactions, and neither is my son, so it's good for now.post #33 of 511/26/13 at 2:02pmpost #34 of 511/26/13 at 2:09pm
-local and seasonal (as long as food is not one of the dirty dozen http://www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-214)
Where price is prioritised is somewhat dependant on how much it costs.
If regular lettuce cost 1$ and organic 3$, I am getting the regular lettuce. If regular lettuce is a $1 and organic is 1.50$, I am getting the organic.
We eat quite low down on the food chain, garden and make a fair bit from scratch- all of these help me feel comfortable with what we put in our bodies.
Gardening and making food from scratch are both time intensive. I get joy from both, though, so it is all good. I do understand some people do not have time, or feel towards gardening and cooking from scratch the way I feel about housecleaning (boo, hiss)…in which case careful shopping might be more important.
Do you like to cook or garden, OP? Do you have time or can you make it/delegate it?post #35 of 511/26/13 at 2:10pmpost #36 of 511/26/13 at 3:46pm
I prioritize whole foods and affordability first. I will buy and eat less to improve quality. I also buy produce that is in season so not shipped a long way. My idea of cheap is affected by the fact that I do not eat wheat and almost never eat sugar so many of the cheapest foods are not even considered--I also don't consider these to be good nutritional values.
I choose local over organic, most of which is mostly organic but not certified. Most small farms are quite cautious with pesticides, and I don't worry about nonorganic fertilizers even though there are better ways to farm. I mean, using miracle grow is nonorganic but does would you really consider that a danger if someone offered you a tomato that had been grown with miracle grow? Fertilizers and pesticides are two very different things in food safety and I think very responsible farmers can produce healthy food with some nonorganic fertilizers in their growing program. Pesticides are very worrisome to me however. Luckily there are a lot of rules and pesticides are really expensive so there are incentives for being careful... Organic pesticides can actually be kind of yucky too. Fortunately there are a lot of great farmers learning all of the time, incorporating IPM practices etc. so some healthier methods are becoming more and more and more part of conventional farming all over.
Anyhow I buy Amish butter which is not certified organic but IME Amish usually have healthy farming practices including pastures so a good gamble. I buy organic greens when I am not growing them. I buy local cream and sometimes get fresh local milk/cream from good farms and get local free range eggs. I buy organic mushrooms because our grocery uses an organic source for all of their mushrooms, sometimes carrots because their cost is nearly the same as nonorganic. I generally buy organic apples but I buy apples less than half as often as I might in order to do so. Mostly what I buy organic is what we eat a lot of, what's not too much higher in cost, and what is most easily available locally. Other things I either compromise or decide we don't need it at all.
Other than those I buy mostly nonorganic and nonlocal. I choose foods I consider "clean" and those that have more nutrition per dollar on average. We eat quite a lot of conventionally raised/grown food and I am done stressing about that. I will not break the budget to get these things. It's a luxury to make that choice. Also, the most affordable and available organic foods are distributed by huge corporations and I skip it because I don't trust them. First of all I am poor, and I am too grateful to have food at all to be too picky. (My kids are already better off in that than most of the world.) Second of all, I think organics make less impact on personal health than many other choices that I can easily afford. Like avoiding sugar, or exercising, or drinking more water.
I am willing to buy a few fancy things to make eating a greater pleasure, so a fancy cheese or specialty salad dressing or shitake mushrooms are things that add a lot of value. Especially a fancy condiment is something that makes a plain food special and a little goes a long way. Even that is more valuable to me than eating all organic foods :)
Some of my choices appear luxury but I get a lot of food value from them: I will buy a free range goose (I assume probably organic or close enough for me :) ) and that seems costly but along with a meal and leftovers, I get a quart of goose fat that I use for roasting potatoes for a month or two.
I have a good but not very expensive water filter (Berkey) that is more important to me than organic food because I think water quality makes a huge impact on health for the cost. If I had to give up the water filter or everything that I get certified organic I'd keep the water filters.post #37 of 511/26/13 at 4:20pmI agree that certified organic isn't the be all end all, especially with a local product, but with things like fertilizer I have major concerns with the environmental impact and sustainability. It might not cause the end product to contain harmful ingredients, but some practices absolutely contribute to contaminated drinking water, for example.post #38 of 511/26/13 at 4:47pm
I agree, Rachel.
For me, it's not just what ends up on my plate, it's also how farming and production practices protect or harm the environment. Personally, I get a bit irritated by the focus of buying organic produce, except the ones that show little chemical residue for the consumer. Yes, that is important, but it is just as important to protect the earth and workers who bring the crops in. (At least it's a start, I guess.)post #39 of 511/26/13 at 5:40pmQuote:Originally Posted by Rrrrrachel
I agree that certified organic isn't the be all end all, especially with a local product, but with things like fertilizer I have major concerns with the environmental impact and sustainability. It might not cause the end product to contain harmful ingredients, but some practices absolutely contribute to contaminated drinking water, for example.
Contaminated land isn't completely addressed by organics but is addressed by better farming practices. While those are often the same thing they are not always. You can manage to prevent runoff. Generally runoff of fertilizers is far worse from lawn care than farms. Not that any of it is A-OK but with so many threads of cause and effect I simply do not intend to try to make everything right.
When it comes to my grocery dollar, it's too small to save the world. I am conscious, I make some excellent choices so I can do my part, and I can also live with my compromises. If I were a little wealthier I'd do a bigger part.post #40 of 511/26/13 at 5:52pmThat's pretty much the same point I was trying to make, little bird. Organic isn't the gold standard, to me, but there are other issues than just if I'm going to have residue on my tomato. Especially with a fertilizer like miracle gro, for example, it's very ver often symptomatic of farming practices that are problematic on a much broader scale.
I have a very modest grocery budget and I manage to spend the overwhelming bulk of it on local, sustainably raised foods. I am tremendously lucky to live in an area with exceptionally strong infrastructure for locally grown food, though. When I don't know the farmer and the farming practices, I rely more on things like organic certification. Organic and responsibly grown food doesn't have to be outrageously expensive. It just doesn't. There are a lot of foods we don't eat, don't eat out of its season, or only eat sometimes when we can find a responsible source.
As for organic not really impacting personal health, I very much disagree, especially for children. Even the apa recognizes the impact of pesticide residue on the health of children and has issued a statement urging parents and other care providers to choose organic food and other strategies to limit children's pesticide exposure. I think it has a tremendous impact on children's health, especially when you're talking about things they're exposed to or eat every day. That's leaving aside the health ramifications of the negative impact on the environment, especially water, that impacts health, as well.
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