Know the difference between a newborn baby and a radical “environmentalist?” You don't have to spank a whacko environmentalist to make him whimper and cry.
OK, that is a take-off on an old farmer joke, but it seemed appropriate after reading a news release from a warm and fuzzy sounding organization called the Cornucopia Institute from Wisconsin. I'd Never before heard of the outfit that bills itself as “the nation's most aggressive organic farming watchdog.”
From noticing the second contact listed on the news release, I figured out who was behind the news release with the headline “Wal-Mart Declares War on Organic Farmers.”
The contact was the anti-capitalist, anti-most everything in America, Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). It's the same Minnesota-based organization that spearheaded the California anti-biotech county initiatives, and who were whipped and sent packing about a year ago when Sonoma County and several other counties turned down biotech bans.
The Cornucopia Institute, OCA and others released a “report” accusing Wal-Mart of “cheapening the value of the organic label by sourcing products from industrial-scale factory farms and Third World countries, such as China.”
This comes after Wal-Mart announced that it would increase the number of organic products and price them, according to the Cornucopia release, at 10 percent above conventional food costs.
Ronnie and crowd complain that Wal-Mart buys milk from 10,000 cow-certified organic dairies that get milk from “nonorganic (sp) cows” brought into the dairies. I would really like to see a non-organic cow.
They also attacked California's Natural Selection Foods/Earthbound Farms, the 24,000-acre organic food producer in the center of the recent spinach E. coli outbreak. Cornucopia's press release came in the middle of the E. coli story. This farmer/packer supplies Wal-Mart with organic produce.
OCA and company say Wal-Mart is showing “blatant disregard to the ethical expectations of consumers who helped build organic into a lucrative $16 billion industry.”
Sorry Ronnie/OCA, but consumers did not really build the organic market. You and your friends did with misrepresentation of conventional agriculture to the point that a few “consumers” began to believe your propaganda.
You helped spawn this “lucrative” market (only 2 percent of the nation's food supply). However, the market is now too big for you to supply. No way Wal-Mart would rely on commune-type farms where people pull little wagons gathering tomatoes and kill insects by crunching them between two 2-by-4 organic pine blocks to supply its growing organic market.
“Between Whole Foods and hundreds of the nation's cooperatively- owned natural foods groceries, we are certainly set up for a clash of the titans,” said Cummins.
Two titans? More like a clash of a pip-squeak and an 800-pound gorilla.
“Will consumers choose cheap industrial (organic) foods from factory farms or questionable Third World imports or will they continue to support ethical processors and family farmers?” Cummins asks.
You are bright Ronnie. You know the answer.
My bet is on Wal-Mart's big volume, low consumer pricing. Many of the misguided organic consumers created by Cummins and others, I believe, will decide that if it says organically certified, why not pay the lowest price at Wal-Mart instead of the high prices of places like Whole Foods.
Sorry Ronnie, capitalism has smacked you in the misconceptions you successfully created. You helped create a market that you and your friends cannot supply. You misjudged California and lost the biotech battle here.
You are going to lose this one, too. Your loss is your fault. How radically ironic.