In Organic We Trust
I had the chance to screen a new movie premiering this week at the Newport Beach Film Festival, In Organic We Trust. I was initially a little hesitant to watch it because I was afraid that it was going to debunk all things organic and then I’d be left with no more options. Thank goodness that was not the case. Here is the trailer:
I was impressed with this film on multiple levels. First off, they didn’t just worship organic farming and products. They started out by explaining the philosophy and ideals of organic farming. They introduced the audience to some organic farmers who are growing their food the way they believe is best for the land and for the people who consume it. It’s all about sustainability and not using chemicals, but working with nature and using systems that are natural. Many of these farmers have deep connections with and a lot of respect for their soil. They treat soil more as an organism than just dirt. Their practices enrich it and build it up.
Second, this film exposed the “certified organic” label for what it is: a program regulated by the USDA. Certified organic does not mean that no pesticides were used… It just means that only allowed substances (according to allowed practices) from a list regulated by the USDA were used.
Some positives (what certified organic DOES mean):
- No irradiation
- No sewage
- No GMO’s
- No antibiotics
The USDA program seems to be well-intentioned, but it is most definitely flawed. The system is toothless and they rarely kick anyone out for noncompliance. USDA annual inspections don’t do what they’re supposed to. Many legitimately organic farmers believe that the program is not regulated strongly enough and some farms/corporations slip in and are not weeded out like they probably should be. And something that really says it all about this program: the department it falls under at the USDA is Marketing. I’ll just let that one fester for a minute… You got it? Oh, and the USDA declined to be interviewed for this film. How does that sit with you?
While the fact that USDA certified organic may not mean what we thought it meant is a little scary, the end result is still the same: Buying certified organic is still much better than the alternative. But your best option? Buying from your local farmers market. There, you can meet your farmers and ask questions to ensure that the product you’re getting is the product you’re after.
The film also exposed myths about organic foods:
- MYTH: Organic food is more nutritious. While this may be true (there are studies that suggest it), there is not a consensus on the subject yet.
- MYTH: No pesticides are used on organic foods. I addressed this above… Pesticides may be used but they are regulated by the USDA.
A few other points the film made that I found particularly enlightening or interesting (in no particular order):
- Organic foods are expensive for two reasons. One, organic farmers pay for the certification to be organic. Two, they use the very best tools and ingredients available to them to give you the safest, best product they can.
- Obesity is literally shortening average lifespans. If things continue as they are today, our children won’t live as long as we will.
- The food we eat has begun affecting our IQ.
- Childhood disorders are at an all time high.
- 41% of people will get cancer.
- Crop rotation is not only good for the soil, but it fools pests into not returning to the same place year after year, therefore reducing the need for pesticides.
The film took an unexpected turn that really intrigued me. I can only guess that, as they were researching, it evolved on it’s own. They begun to show the effect that nutrition education was having in schools. They showed two schools in particular that had integrated nutrition information. In one elementary school, the kids were actually managing a garden and then coming together and cooking meals out of the food that they grew. The garden helped the children learn where their food comes from in a world where we choose to be largely disconnected from our food sources.
Here is my takeaway from the film:
- Know where your food comes from – there is no shortcut or substitute for this. Grow it yourself or do your very best to buy it from local resources that you can question directly.
- The USDA certified organic label is not a promise of the best food you can get… But as a last resort, it can function as a sort of fail-safe.
- If it comes in a package labeled organic and has more than a few ingredients, I wouldn’t trust it. That goes against what organic stands for.
In short, what I loved best about this film was not the things I learned. It was the fact that they offered multiple solutions to the problem.They mention Slow Food USA and they advocate educating children about nutrition and food sources. It gives you guidelines of what to buy organic, if you have to choose (lists of the “Clean Fifteen” and the “Dirty Dozen”).
Lastly, the film not only called for action, but it inspired me to it. I am proud to tell you that I planted my first garden this weekend. I had hoped to share some photos with you, but in the interest of time, I wanted to get this review up as soon as possible. You still have the chance to attend a screening of this film tomorrow evening. Click here for more information. There is so much more information in the film than what I’ve shared here. If you’re not able to attend a screening, I encourage you to visit their website at www.inorganicswetrust.org to learn more about the changes you can make in your life.