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Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

Grading the Gatekeepers

We’ve reported about them before. The corporate “organic imposters” who somehow manage to circumvent the rules and/or spirit of the organic certification.

There are the giant milk producers masquerading as organic. The giant egg producers. And more recently, the "organic" hydroponic fruit and vegetable growers.

The best advice so far for consumers (until we can force the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to clean up its act) has been to avoid the offending brands. Those brands include most store brands sold in the organic section of major national retailers, such as Costco and Walmart, and in many large regional retail grocery chains that peddle their own labels.

Now, consumers have a new tool to help them identify and support the brands that play by the rules. The Cornucopia Institute has issued a report on the organizations that certify organic operations.

As it turns out, some certifiers do a better job than others at policing the organic industry. That means consumers can have a higher degree of confidence in the organic integrity of the products certified by those organizations, compared with products certified by organizations ranked lower in Cornucopia’s Certifier Guide.

Cornucopia’s Mark Kastel told us:

"If you see a product certified by one of the unethical certifiers it doesn’t necessarily mean the product itself is illegitimate. But it should trigger additional research and encouragement to the brand marketers, if you appreciate their products, to switch to a more reputable certifier."

Good advice. In the meantime, we’ll keep up the pressure on the USDA to keep organics strong.

Read ‘The Organic Food Industry Is Booming, and That May Be Bad for Consumers'

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