Factory farming conditions and antibiotic-resistant pathogens emerging as a result of them pose an existential threat to humans in the form of zoonotic diseases. Why it’s time to produce and consume food more thoughtfully.
Let’s keep organic pure. As the business grows, so does the need for protection
Organic agriculture has turned into big business in the US and consumers need protection now more than ever. This is where The Cornucopia Institute comes in.
The advent of the new millennium has seen the rapid, unstoppable growth of what is now the hugely popular organic movement. A multi-billion dollar industry in the United States, in many cases organic means big business, led by corporations often attempting to cut corners in order to maximize profits. Consumers can choose to buy from small, local farmers committed to organic practices, but when needs go beyond what is locally produced and new products enter the marketplace daily, good choices can be harder to make.
The Cornucopia Institute
Among the many consumers’ associations working tirelessly to keep organic pure, The Cornucopia Institute, based in the US state of Wisconsin, stands out. Founded eleven years ago, one of the institute’s first activities was exposing industrial-scale confinement dairies in which thousands of cows were producing organic milk for several labels. As a result one of these operations was shut down.
Notable is also the Authentic Almond Project which aims to keep almonds truly raw, since a 2007 US federal rule mandates that even organic California almonds need to be treated with a toxic fumigant or high-temperature heat in order to prevent Salmonella outbreaks. The removal of the controversial seaweed-based food additive carrageenan, linked to gastrointestinal inflammation, from organic foods has also been one of the Institute’s campaigns for years.
Rating organic products
The most useful tool The Cornucopia offers are its Scorecards, based on a 1 to 5 rating of hundreds of products – a must-have for the informed consumer. Companies that show true commitment to organic and humane practices receive a higher score. Access to outdoor spaces and pasture warrant extra points for dairy and eggs. Excess of added sugars, thickeners or carrageenan lower the score for breakfast cereal and yogurt. This system helps consumers make conscientious choices based on producers’ efforts to keep their goods natural and the healthiness of the finished product.
Scorecards also take transparency into account, as many large corporations offering organics don’t fully disclose information about their practices or the quality of their ingredients. Since transparency is extremely important to The Cornucopia Institute, such products often receive an unsatisfactory rating, as can be seen with some low scoring soy.
Another informative tool is the Who Owns Organic chart, which displays the ownership structure of most organic brands, their consolidation throughout the years and which small family farms have been sold to large corporations (which are sometimes the same ones opposing labeling GM products).
In a world where profit often comes first, The Cornucopia Institute is just an example of how committed individuals can create a better world by protecting the value of organic agriculture and the needs of whoever benefits from its fruits.
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