Why Is Tea So Expensive? Part III

The label “Organic” is appearing on a lot of tea packages these days. Not surprising, since in produce (fruits and vegetables) there has been a promoting of “organic,” with ever-growing sections on the shelves and in the produce area of the grocery store. The question here is: Is there any validity in the claims that “Organic” is healthier, or is this just an emotional appeal? Tea drinkers need to assess the issue from a rational perspective.

Nibble.com, a site that focuses on specialty foods, presents this information about the “Organic” label on foods (not just on tea):

The USDA’s National Organic Program certifies products as organic based on farming, handling, manufacturing, distribution and labeling practices. Requirements include: no antibiotics or growth hormones for animals, animals must be raised on organic feed and have free range to graze, crops must be raised with no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers containing synthetic chemicals, no sewage-sludge fertilizer, no bio-engineered foods or irradiation, and no GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Farming practices should enhance and preserve soil and water. A government inspector must certify the farm after visiting it; farmers must keep detailed records on crops. There is a network of certifying organizations outside the United States who do the certification, for example, in China and other tea-producing regions.

Here’s the seal:

As John Stossel says, “Give me a break!”

In fact, in his book Give Me a Break, in chapter 10, “The Left Takes Notice,” he has an interesting section called “The Organic Food Hoax.” In it, he discusses pesticides, “non-chemical” pesticides and fertilizers that are worse than man-made items, and quite a bit more. Not even the USDA label is a guarantee of something being truly organically grown. Tests have shown that, even with this label, foods contain man-made pesticides and fertilizers. If you want the full scoop, check out Stossel’s book.

Farming practices that enhance and preserve soil and water are just common sense and hardly need a government agency to promote them. A farmer that doesn’t use such methods won’t be a farmer for long.

Bottom Line

Don’t get sucked in by the “Organic” label. You’ll just pay more.

As for me, I’ll just have another cup of non-organic tea brought to me by a lot of hard-working people, all of whom I’m sure engage in fair trade practices.

© 2009 A.C. Cargill photos and text

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