Organic Consumers Association

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What Do Mainers Hunger For? More Product Details

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Myth of Natural page and our Maine News page.

There is a scene in the quirky cable TV comedy show "Portlandia" -- set in the Oregon city -- in which a waitress takes an order from a couple at a restaurant.

FEMALE CUSTOMER: I guess I do have a question about the chicken ...

WAITRESS: The chicken is a heritage breed, woodland-raised chicken that's been fed a diet of sheep's milk, soy and hazelnuts.

MALE CUSTOMER: This is local?

WAITRESS: Yes, absolutely.

The exchange continues as the couple peppers the waitress with questions about the chicken's biography -- was it organic, where was it raised, did it have friends?

The waitress answers each question and then goes one step further.

"The chicken you're enjoying tonight, his name was Colin," she says without a hint of irony. "Here are his papers."

The satirical scene is indicative of a growing trend in consumer transparency. Customers want to know what's in their food, where it was grown, what's in the packaging and where their clothes were made.

The public's appetite for more information is prompting lawmakers to push for more transparency. Just last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration created a definition for "gluten free" on food labeling to aid those with celiac disease.

But there also are plenty of corporate interests fighting hard to stem the flow of information.  

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