Do you hand your daughter an unpeeled apple as an afterschool snack, or cut up carrot sticks to pack in a lunch for your son under the premise that the fruits and vegetables you buy are organic?
We have all heard of the benefits of eating organic foods: they are environmentally conscious, boost the business of small local farms, arguably contain more nutrients and are all raised sans the nasty pesticides that are commonly used to grow fruits and vegetables. You might pick up peaches or apples claiming to be organically grown at your nearby farmers’ market, Carrefour, Wal-mart or Jenny Lou’s. But how organic are these fruits?
In a recent interview on Public Radio International, American journalist Michael Pollan expressed his skepticism over allegedly organic foods from China. He stated that one of his students traveled to an “organic” strawberry farm near Beijing and chatted with the farmer about his perception of organic foods. The student received an impression that the farmer did not have a clear definition of the term, ‘organic’. Samples from the farm were tested at a laboratory and results indicated that they were grown with banned pesticides in terms of standards for organic farming.
But these problems are not limited to international exports. The Beijing Consumer Association reported that a local study looking into the authenticity of organic foods resulted in ten percent of these foods being fake. These included those tested in supermarkets and grocery stores. They found that some businesses stick on counterfeit certification labels while others acquire the labels without going through the proper procedure.
Needless to say, you should look twice before putting the next organic apple in your shopping cart. Dr. Richards describes tips for choosing the right organic food for you including looking out for the certification and buying from reliable suppliers. GreenChoice Beijing lists established labels which mark organic fruits and vegetables found in grocery stores. In addition, whether being used for organic food or not, Veggie Wash, a citrus-based cleanser found in stores like Lohao or Jenny Lou’s, can be used to scrub your fruits and vegetables clean.
Photo by WxMom of Flickr.