When is organic not organic?

A few weeks ago there was a flurry of news and comment around the Soil Association’s proposal to remove the Organic marque from food that had been flown in to Britain.  At the time the Kenyans (among others) were rightly up in arms about the effect it would have on their economies. On the Today program a Kenyan representative very carefully pointed out that the environmental impact of heated glasshouse grown vegetables was much higher than that of food grown without heat and shipped in.

While this report at Riverford only talks about Spain/Italy and road freight, rather than Kenya and air freight, it does highlight the easy confusion about what is actually green.

It leads me to a gripe, too.  When did “Organic” stop meaning “grown without chemicals” and start meaning “meeting whatever random criteria public opinion has badgered us into”?  Like the Fairtrade movement the Soil Association should be very careful about diluting or confusing its brand.

I didn’t realise that Fairtrade products had to come from collective owned/operated farms and I didn’t realise that Organic meant more than no chemicals.

Confusion, obfuscation and brand overreach leads the consumer into a bewildering array of uninformed decisions; exactly what these marques were supposed to stop happening.

Eat your carbohydratesOh.  And while I’m on consumer confusion…  WTF is with this advert for McCains Rustic oven chips?  Only showing 4 of the 5 traffic lights is downright misleading, and should be banned outright, right now.