Organic Food: The Paradox


What is “organic” as it applies to food and agriculture, really? Is “organic” synonymous with “sustainable”? Is “industrial organic” oxymoronic? What are the implications of growing market demand for organically grown food? And how does consumer perception of “organic” food and farming diverge from reality?

Three guests entertained the above questions on the Diane Rehm Show last week.

Mark Kastel, co-founder of the organic industry watchdog the Cornucopia Institute, presented case studies signaling deficiencies in the National Organic Standards and the United States Department of Agriculture’s inability and unwillingness to aggressively enforce standards. Miles McEvoy, deputy administrator of the National Organic Program, United States Department of Agriculture, defended the program and fielded questions about its purpose and functions.  International Environment Reporter for the New York Times, Elisabeth Rosenthal, who recently published “Organic Agriculture May Be Outgrowing Its Ideals” expressed her frustration as a consumer that much of what is considered “organic” under the law does not fit her concept of organic agriculture should be.

You can listen to their discussion with Diane online here.

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