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Does Your Whole Foods ‘Organic’ Produce Come From China?
Most everyone who buys organic foods knows the benefits. While it can tend to be a little more expensive, it is at least pesticide free and much more wholesome.
But did you know that an increasing amount of our “organic” food may be coming from China (which immediately throws into question the organic labeling)? That could include some of your favorites from Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods, which brands itself as the nation’s organic foods leader.
WJLA, the ABC News affiliate in Washington, D.C., reported recently that the “leading food retailer selling the image that local and organic is better for the environment and better for you,” but that may not be the product consumers are getting.
At more than 175 stores nationwide, Whole Foods promotes a homegrown concept, but, according to WJLA’s investigation, many of the supermarket chain’s goods are marked “Product of China.”
What’s wrong with that? Well; for one, importing food from China is anathema to Whole Foods’ concept of “locally grown” and “organic.” For another, China’s agricultural development regulations are nowhere near as stringent as they are in the U.S. And finally, despite Whole Foods’ assurances to the contrary, how is a consumer – or the company, for that matter – to know whether all of its Chinese-grown products are indeed pesticide-free?
Produces identified by the WJLA investigation marked as a “Product of China” included spinach, sugar snap peas and, ironically enough, a “California Blend” of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower – all under Whole Foods’ “365 Organic” brand label. (Editor’s note: Since the initial March 2012 investigative report by WJLA, Whole Food’s “California Blend” of vegetables are now being grown again in the U.S.)
“Organic ensures pesticide-free, environmentally friendly conditions,” said investigative reporter Roberta Baskin, who filed the report for WJLA’s I-Team. “But how do we even know the food is organic?”
That’s a good question.
Private inspectors, um, are inspecting, um, our food…
Food sold in the U.S. has to first be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculturebefore it can display the “organic” label, by regulation. That not only ensures it’s safe but that it was grown in the manner advertised.