Is Organic Really Organic? Or Is It A Marketing Ploy?

Is Organic Really Organic? Or Is It A Marketing Ploy?
Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.


Sometimes it’s hard to tell – is organic really organic? Or is it just a marketing ploy to make more money off a buzz word? A lot of people want to know whether it’s worth it to buy organic food.

In my last post, I talked about why I think it’s really important to buy organic food, but I mentioned that there’s a difference between industrial organic and true organic.

What Is True Organics?

I call it true organic, because the word ‘organic’ has lost a lot of its meaning as big agricultural players get into organics on the industrial level.

I asked Phil how he would define true organic methods, and he says it goes beyond the basics of no pesticides and no chemical fertilizers.

It starts with creating really healthy soil which will grow healthy plants, which in turn feed animals (including us) and create health in them.

Rather than growing plants that wind up being unhealthy and treating the diseases and pests that they attract, organic methods are about being proactive and preventing disease in the first place.

Whenever we talk about it, I feel like he’s reciting back to me my thoughts about holistic nutrition and human health. It makes sense though that they should be the same principles, since we’re part of a larger ecosystem and energy cycle than just ourselves.

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What Is Industrial Organics?

Industrial organic is basically industrial agriculture done without the use use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. It follows the bare minimum to meet the regulations in order to get that ‘Certified Organic’ stamp. It’s done on a massive scale, and often by companies that also grow non organic food and just want to cash in on the bigger margins that health- and environmentally-conscious consumers are willing to support for organic food.

Some of the large-scale organic producers are better than others. The companies that produce only organic foods – like Earthbound Organics – have the outlook that if they can at least help start the shift in public awareness and reduce the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers that it’s better than non organic industrial agriculture.

I agree with that line of thought, and I choose industrial organic food over non organic food. But when I have the choice, I’ll choose true organic food over industrial organic food.

The reason is that although industrial organics won’t have chemical pesticides or fertilizers, it doesn’t always create healthier food. Large scale farmers don’t usually have that philosophy Phil talks about in creating health in the soil to grow healthy plants.

Another consideration is that some natural fertilizers and pesticides that are allowed under organic certification regulations can be as harmful as chemical ones.

Is Organic Really Organic When It Comes From China?

Different countries have different requirements in giving out that organic stamp. The USDA has been notoriously lax on its regulations, while European and Canadian standards are better. China and lots of developing countries are also pretty lax, so it pays to look for a QAI (an international standard) organic symbol on foods you buy.

How Can You Tell True Organic From Industrial Organic?

True organic food is the kind you’ll find at a local farmer’s market. Carrots will have their tops, rather than the 5lb bags in the superstore. Apples will be different shapes and have a matte skin, rather than the perfect spheres that reflect your image in their wax surface.

Now, I know that most of us don’t have access to this for a lot of the year, and some of us don’t have access at all. That’s why I say that I’ll buy industrial organic over non organic, but when I do have the choice I’ll go for true organics. Of course, the best source of all is organic food grown in your own garden or on your windowsill. Check out my video on growing alfalfa sprouts at home to get in on that yourself.

What do you think – is organic really organic in your grocery store? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.


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