Thursday, October 13, 2011

Organic Flavor

Let's take a close look at this product.  Organic Free Range Chicken Broth, certified USDA Organic by Oregon Tilth and produced by Pacific Foods of Oregon, Inc.  Looks pretty safe, right?  So lets take a close look at the ingredients.  We know to watch out for things called "natural flavors" in the ingredient lists, right?  Natural flavor is just one of many misleading marketing terms which can mean just about anything from MSG to naturally derived chemical additives.  After all, aren't almost all chemicals "natural?"

So just what exactly is "organic flavor?!"  We see it here on the label not once, but twice.  Organic chicken flavor is the second ingredient, followed by natural chicken flavor and the last ingredient is even more mysterious - organic flavor.  So what is this mystery flavor?  Is it spices?  Is it chemicals?  We don't know.  And if they have decided not to label it any more specifically than that, we probably don't want to know. 

So how can they get away with this?  What makes this "organic flavor" any different from those "natural flavors" we have been told to stay away from?  In reality, probably nothing.  Processed food that is certified organic has become somewhat misleading.  Many major producers of so called organic foods are growing their crops using "approved" chemical methods.  The USDA standards for organics are listed on The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances and included in the allowances for organic livestock are such chemicals as chlorine, ethanol, aspirin, tetracycline, sulfates and all vaccines.  The section pertaining to "flavors" simply states that only non-synthetic sources must be used and no artificial preservatives are allowed.  Otherwise anything goes, I guess.

Please don't misunderstand my intentions.  I believe very strongly in sustainable organic agriculture.  The kind that is happening at more and more small farms all across the nation.  But what I disagree with is the governmental regulations and "standards" which have so many loopholes for major processed food distributors, like Pacific Foods, to label substandard products as organic and natural and therefore make more money.

The bottom line:  Don't eat processed food.  Period.  Doesn't matter if it is organic, natural or not, just stay away from processed food which is ruining our health and lining the pockets of the wealthy corporations.  Buy your food from small local producers.  Find a local farm in your area and see if you can tour the facility to ensure that the animals are being treated humanely and the produce is grown naturally and handled with regard to safety.  You can find local growers online at Shop at farmers markets and farm stands, and stay away from the supermarket as much as you possibly can.  When shopping in a supermarket, read the labels carefully!  Don't just assume that because it says "organic" or "natural" that it is good for you.  Take the time to make a wise consumer choice.  When you buy whole foods from local sources you are using your hard earned dollars to vote for sustainability and the healthy future of our planet.

1 comment:

  1. I saw it on a GoodBelly ingredient list. The smell of the product was a bit offputting. I figure "organic flavor" may be fluid from a compost pile. yuck.