Farmers — organic, conventional and otherwise – need to focus on microbial food safety

Organic is an industry, just like any other industry. While the organic folks may have cornered the language involving sustainable, natural and healthy, they use the same promotional BS that any big food company would use.

That’s why they use pictures like the one, right, to portray the organic industry. I look at the picture and wonder where those hands have been and what kind of poop is being spread on that fresh produce.

The same organic  folks who criticize industry for putting out promotional brochures and information are guilty of … putting out promotional brochures and information.

Taste the Change: How to Go Organic on Campus
, is described as “the nation’s first guide for students who want to bring organic dining to campus is now available for download. This ground-breaking student guide is dedicated to feeding the organic revolution on campus.”

I have no idea why a guide that includes “Media Outreach” and “Free Food Never Fails” is considered ground-breaking, but the new brochure does follow the equally abysmal, Organic: It’s Worth It. And once again, the organic folks explicitly state that organic is a production standard, not a food safety standard.

“Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers.”

The N.Y. Times pointed out the same thing a few days ago: organic does not mean safer; it’s a lifestyle choice. But the organics industry keeps hinting at health benefits.

“Organic agriculture minimizes children’s exposure to toxic and persistent pesticides in the soil in which they play, the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the foods they eat.”

As Katija and I pointed out in our 2004 paper, Microbial Food Safety Considerations for Organic Produce Production:  An Analysis of Canadian Organic Production Standards Compared with US FDA Guidelines for Microbial Food Safety,

“The production of safe food is the responsibility of everyone in the farm-to-fork chain. With established relationships between growers and regulatory infrastructure, the CGSB organic standard would be an ideal vehicle for providing organic growers with information and guidelines on identifying and controlling microbial hazards on their produce.”

Would be. All growers – organic, conventional and otherwise – need to focus on microbial food safety. There’s just too many people getting sick from the food they eat..