Sunday, May 14, 2006

Big Box Organic - the corporatization of organics

There are many aspects to being a conscious consumer. Where and how were items made/grown? How were the people involved treated and compensated? What is the overall impact of your purchase - on the environment, on society, on the bottom line of various companies?

For a variety of reasons, many of us have shifted to buying more organic food. Traditionally, organic farming was synonomous with small, local farmers that practiced environmentally friendly forms of farming. That's often no longer the case as evidenced by this chart of corporate ownership of the organic foods market.

Here's an interesting article on the subject if you'd like to read more.


Jordan Bar Am said...

That chart is fascinating and scary. As organics have scaled up, for better and worse, i have began to think about what truly constitutes "changing the food system." This chart is an indication that organic seems to have been appropraited by the industrial food system, a fact that has its ups and its downs.
I think that one of the key factors that has allowed for this appropriation is that organic relies so heavily on the over-simplified bottling and mass-marketing of what should be a complicated concept.
I am toying with the idea that I should be thinking about food more like how I think about friendship. You would never rely on a third party certification to tell you if you should be friends with somebody. You decide to give your friendship based on a complex set of very personal criteria that you use to determine whether the realtionship will be healthy, nurturing, and fun for both. Food should get similar attention.
Clearly most folks are not willing to put in the sort of consideration they apply to frienship to their foodships, but given the essential nature of food to our very existence I think that it is this very unwillingness that is a chief indicator of what Michael Pollan calls "our national eating disorder".

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