Scott Olson Getty Images

Scott Olson, Getty Images

Organic movement is paying a big price

I confess. I bought organic. I really had no choice if I wanted to buy raisins at Costco. Organic Sun-Maid raisins are the only raisins the biggest big box store sells in Fresno, Calif. They were smaller and less plump than raisins grown “non-organic” but cheap.

Farmers are entitled to produce certified organic, although it can be more expensive and the quality is generally lower.

However, I do not support organic labeling for a couple of reasons. One is that organic disciples claim it is healthier than conventional. Research has pretty well debunked that.

Secondly, the organic-sustainable-non GMO-gluten free crowd divides food into good and bad. It is not right to pit farmer against farmer. We all - consumers and farmers - are in the business of producing and eating healthy food, regardless of the methods used.

It’s maddening to hear people say, “I only eat organic.” Asked to define it they cannot. What they are saying is they only buy food that is labeled organic.

A few will proclaim organic is pesticide free. It is not and never will be. Organic food can be grown with more than 4,000 products (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) approved by OMRI (the Organic Materials Review Institute).

The “only eat organic” crowd would be surprised to learn that most of the major chemical and fertilizer suppliers have products OMRI-certified since organic is a legitimate segment of commercial agriculture.

The movement’s early false health claims created an artificial premium of roughly 25 percent on organic products. This has gone away as evidenced by a recent Costco flyer offering robust discounts on 16 organic products - like $2 off on a $3.69 bag of organic tortilla chips. That is a giveaway price either because the product is either not good or there are far fewer organic tortilla chip eaters than the manufacturer projected.

The organic movement has shot itself in the foot with its false claims, luring manufacturers into the movement. Commercial farmers will not grow organically unless it’s economically sound.

However, manufacturers are chasing a market that is smaller than claimed and a retail premium that is no longer there.

Regardless, if there is a choice between organic and “non-organic” I will still pick the latter.

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