“Big Food” and Organic

Be sure to read today’s New York Times Business Section article on organic food.  You want to do it with a critical eye however because the reporter Stephanie Strom wasn’t able to resist the opportunity to bash “Big Food.”

Can someone tell me why it is acceptable to use the term “Big Food” in a newspaper article?

Ms. Strom doesn’t have much positive to say about organic, she’s apparently appalled that big companies are making organic foods and the critics think “Big Food” has too much to say about how the government defines “organic.”

I’m fascinated with organic.  It’s important to remember that humans have been farming organically for thousands of years.  Organic today means farming and growing organically while also managing to get the food to lots of consumers.  The expansion of the organic movement is thrilling; unfortunately Ms. Strom just wants us to focus on the negative.

One example that really bugged me – the writer says the financial motivation of the “giant corporations” is obvious based on the fact that 12 boxes of Kraft Organic Macaroni and Cheese sell for $25.32 while a dozen boxes of the regular Macaroni and Cheese go for $19.64.  She suggests that the difference is pure profit and there’s no discussion of the fact that organic production is more expensive.

Keep in mind the quote from USDA’s Kathleen Merrigan, “It’s really very simplistic and headline grabbing to throw out those sorts of critiques, but when you get down into the details there are usually very rational and important reasons for the actions the board [NOSB] has taken.”

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1 Response to “Big Food” and Organic

  1. Brant also recommends: “You Eat What You Are”, the two part Freakonomics Podcast about the fallacies of the locally grown movement.


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