Some organic food products sold by the Whole Foods Market grocery chain are from China, reported Roberta Baskin of Washington’s WJLA-TV. Whole Foods claims to be “the world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods.” Ms. Baskin acquired a WF internal “country of origin” memo.
This report builds on earlier research, like Paula Lavigne’s 2006 article in the Dallas Morning News, which reported that “40 percent of organic farms and handlers are in foreign countries, including 300 farms and processing plants in China.” 90 percent of China’s 8.6 million acres of organic farmland was certified in 2004, and experts doubt the land could have transitioned from conventional farming that quickly:
China has a history of dousing fields with chemicals, researchers say.
Fred Gale, a senior USDA economist who has researched Chinese agriculture, said it was “almost impossible to grow truly organic food in China.”
“The water everywhere is polluted, and the soil is contaminated from industry and mining, and the air is bad.”
The USDA National Organic Program does not certify foods as organic; it certifies organic certification agencies. Forty of these are in foreign countries.
Hat Tip: Mark Bittman of the New York Times. Go to his Bitten blog to see where he got it.
Image by Mike Licht. Not certified organic. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com