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Most Food in U.S. Grocery Stores Will Be Organic by 2020

The Santa Fe New Mexican (New Mexico)
July 9, 2004



Setting the record straight

For about 10,000 years, finding organics in this country was a no-brainer.
That's simply because organically grown produce was all we had. Then, about
50 years ago, American farmers started dabbling in chemically intensive
agriculture, explains Ronnie Cummins, founder/director of the non-profit
Organic Consumers Association in Little Marais, Minn.

"And now we've got GMOs and radiation, neurotoxins and pesticides, hormones
and steroids -- all scary things," he says. "Consumers are thinking about
their health and their family's health, and survival of family farms, and
that's why they're casting their vote for organic."

Cummins predicts today's 13 million U.S. households (of 106 million total)
regularly purchasing certified organic groceries -- that's just 3 percent of
the $380 billion grocery industry -- will swell to become the majority of
U.S. and Canadian supermarket buyers by 2023. The motivation? Health and
food safety, Cummins says.

"The (October 2002) organic labeling act was huge, because people feel a lot
more comfortable identifying organics and understanding what it means," says
TC Gritt, associate store team leader at Santa Fe's Whole Foods Market.

So, what is organic? Here's a brief primer:

First, there's "certified organic," which means a product was cultivated and
handled in accordance with strict standards, as defined by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture in October 2002. A third party (the state
certifier here is the New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission) must certify
the product. Requirements are rigorous: seeds must be organic; soil must be
pesticide and waste free; for meats, feed must be organic and animals must
not have be given antibiotics or growth hormones; products cannot be
genetically modified; organic products can't be stored near conventionally
grown products; and farmers are required to keep meticulous, detailed

"Organic" means 95 percent of the ingredients are certified organic; the
other 5 percent are organic unless unavailable.

"Made with organic ingredients" means 70 percent of the ingredients are

"Natural," on the other hand, is a more nebulous term, but indicates
free-range cattle or fowl did not receive growth hormones or antibiotics,
according to industry professionals.

In general, organics cost up to 50 percent more. So price-conscious shoppers
should seek out in-season produce. Consumers can also look for produce that
tends to retain pesticides and buy organically grown of just these types of
produce; for example, apples, grapes, peaches and raspberries, chiles and
potatoes, tend to be high in pesticides, whereas avocados, bananas and
blueberries, asparagus and broccoli tend to be low, The Washington Post

From a long-range perspective, say organics champions, it's more affordable
and planet-friendly to get back to the way food used to be produced --
locally. Mass agriculture, though mainstream today, isn't necessarily the
most effective or efficient use of the land, Gritt points out.

Why buy organic? To keep dollars in the local community, maintain soil
fertility, eliminate toxicity and harmful chemicals, and enhance ecological
harmony. And then there's the simple reason: Because it tastes better.

"If you've ever grown your own vegetables in your garden, you know what I
mean," says Cindy Zivic, store manager at The MarketPlace Natural Grocery.


Finding organic products in Santa Fe:

The MarketPlace Natural Grocery
913 W. Alameda Ave., 984-2852

Produce is 99 percent organic, as is all beef and two-thirds of poultry.

Wild Oats Market
1090 S. St. Francis Drive, 983-5333

100 percent organic beef and poultry; fluxuating with seasonality, produce
is 80 percent organic, 20 percent conventional; the store does not carry any
products with hydrogenated oils.

Kaune Food Town
511 Old Santa Fe Trail, 982-2629

Some organic produce, about 15 percent of its total; 5 percent organic beef
and poultry (a large portion is natural).

Vitamin Cottage
3328 Cerrillos Road, 474-0111

Produce is 100 percent organic; frozen beef and poultry is 60 percent
organic, 40 percent natural.

Whole Foods Market
753 Cerrillos Road, 992-1700

Produce is 75 percent organic, 25 percent conventional, depending on season;
natural beef, two types of organic chicken and organic turkey at Thanksgiving.

3001 S. St. Francis Drive, 992-8663
600 N. Guadalupe St., 982-4668
3542 Zafarano Drive, 471-1058

Has a small "Natural/Organic" section in produce area, including
organically- produced products like sausage and bacon.

Smith's Food & Drug
2110 Pacheco St., 473-5560
2308 Cerrillos Road, 471-9024

Has a modest "Organic Vegetables" section, plus other produce department
shelves with organic products such as salad dressing, some organic beef,
ham, bacon and bologna; also, a special organic dairy products section

Santa Fe Farmers Market

Join one of about 10 northern New Mexico CSA (Community Supported
Agriculture) food co-ops; support local farmers and get organically grown
produce weekly throughout the growing season (April to November); Call the
Santa Fe Farmers Market at 983-409