Food producers and grocers are joining forces in the Organic Trade Association (OTA) to encourage consumers to eat organic produce and animal products. The Go Organic for Earth Day event is now in its fourth year. These warm-hearted corporations are encouraging us, the American people, to be healthier by eating organic. Who can argue with that? Good health is good, right? Reading the press release made me hungry for one of the organic apples that I recently purchased at my friendly neighborhood food co-op, Syracuse Real Foods, so I set down my laptop and got one.
Later, I explored the OTA as I munched on my apple. Lots of reasons why organic is better for your health: recipes, contests, and a newsletter and other free stuff. So far, so good. I read that "Children are developing organs to last a lifetime," says Dr. Alan Greene, MD, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (and an Oprah favorite). "They're smaller. They have faster metabolisms and because their diets are less varied than an adult's, children are more vulnerable to developmental damage and health problems associated with exposure to concentrations of chemicals and pesticides in the non-organic food supply. By reducing exposure to toxic substances, organic products can help us raise healthy strong children and protect our most treasured resources for the future." Aw! Isn’t that nice?
Then I saw the list of companies participating in the Organic Trade Association and I began to suspect that this warm and fuzzy concern for our health might be just another hypocritical public relations campaign.
For example, over 3,500 grocery stores are participating in this Go Organic event… that’s twenty-nine chains, by the way. I reflected that if these companies were so concerned with America’s health, they should simply lower the prices of organic food to enable everyone to afford it. Most purchasers of organic products are price-insensitive; that is to say, they will purchase the product without regard to its price. Many of our least healthy Americans, however, are in the working class and often don’t have health insurance either. These people are price sensitive; that is to say, they purchase less expensive foods because their budget for food is smaller. They cannot easily afford organic produce or meat. Aren’t their children’s metabolisms important too?