Do you read the label? Do you trust the label? Is there truth in advertising? The political philosophy of Libertarian Paternalism means allowing people choices, but influencing them in a good direction. To this end, labeling food is one of the best roles of a government– verifying what’s being pushed on us. Most labels (e.g. “cage-free,” “natural”) need not mean anything; they’re not tied to some government-defined standard. But what about the term “organic”–is it also a meaningless term? The short answer is USDA Certified Organic or California Certified Organic Farmers – CCOF actually do mean something and do carry weight. So look for those labels!
Homemade pizza, one of only three dishes I can make (along with pasta and vareniki (Ukrainian pirogi). These ingredients are organic!
The debate rages whether it is worthwhile to purchase organic food. Is it worth the extra cash? The health benefits are definitely arguable, but the environmental benefits are much clearer (less pesticides = less runoff and less dead zones). In any case, the question here is really about the meaning of the term and whether consumers can/should trust different labels with the word “organic” on them (or related seals/certifications). Here’s a way to go about investigating more deeply, links and text courtesy of my most environmentally aware friends Pat and Melissa Maigler:
One of best the sources to validate labeling terms is the Greener Choices website from the Consumers Union (the nonprofit publisher, most known for Consumer Reports). Greener Choices has an Eco-Label search center, where you can search for “organic” and find the following huge list of potential labels saying organic. When shopping at stores, look for USDA Certified Organic and at farmers’ markets, look for California Certified Organic Farmers – CCOF. In both of these cases, Greener Choices identifies the label as being “Highly” meaningful and “Verified.”
There is much more info on the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) on their official website and the under the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations Title 7 (Agriculture), part 205.