Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Organic Oreos–a Sign of the Health Food Apocalypse?

By Valerie Reiss, covering for Amy.

I’ve been wanting to share my fascination/disgust/happiness at the growing number of giant food companies coming out with organic versions of their products. The first shock was the box of Organic Oreos I saw the other day. No, not the Newman’s Own version, or the Health Valley kind, but the actual words “Organic” and “Oreo” sitting next to each other on a box near the Stella D’Oros.


I had to blink and then pick it up. It seemed like a fantasy, a joke, something I dreamed of 15 years ago when I was working at my college town’s food co-op in exchange for bulk lentils and EdenSoy. So there’s something vaguely perverse about it, like the little box has co-opted my crunchy-yet-chic insidery world of organic goodness. I’m taking it personally–Oreo finally decided that what I’ve loved and promoted and supported all these years is cool and with one swift call to marketing, it is done. And no longer sacred–in only the way that healthier junk food can be no longer sacred.

And yet, of course, it’s great that this means more people will be eating more organics. And when I saw organic balsamic vinaigrette this weekend made by Kraft–yes, Kraft, the brand that also brings you Velveeta, Kool-Aid, Jell-O and yes, Oreos!–my ambivalence compounded. Yay, organics are big enough that even the big boys find it worth their while. And Boo, what happens to the quality of organics when they’re co-opted by the big boys? Are they as careful as Eden and Health Valley and other companies that I’ve sentimentalized and personally identified with as being pure, good, and somehow revolutionary?


And if this were about anything other than marketing using the hottest new food label (low-fat! low-carb! sugar-free!), then shouldn’t they just make all of their cookies and salad dressings and “juice beverage” products organic? If they actually thing it’s important, why not just say, “Now Organic” on the label?

It’s the same thing I’ve always wondered about Volvos. If we figured out how to make a car really safe, one that won’t trash-compactor you on impact, shouldn’t it be the law to make all cars equally safe? And so, since we know that organic is better–for our bodies, the animals, the soil, and even marketing–shouldn’t everything be organic, especially products by the giant companies that can absorb the slight cost increase without blinking?


What do you think of all this? Are you a long-time health nut baffled as I am by Organic Oreos? Or do you think this is a great step forward, with companies like Kraft and Wal-Mart jumping on the bandwagon, giving us all a safer food choice? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You can also take Treehugger’s poll about whether this is “the end of organics.” But first, tell us what you think…..

Comments read comments(8)
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Cathy Buonanno

posted April 10, 2007 at 12:49 pm

I think all of this is a marketing ploy and that there can be no such thing as an organiic cookie. It does make me wonder who in the world is checking all of these products for the accuracy of ingredients and the authenticity of their marketing claims!

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posted April 10, 2007 at 3:18 pm

Honestly, this is maddening. I was just at the grocery store yesterday. My favorite store just upped the ante on their organic section – it is beautiful!Anyway, I see these giant companies slapping the “Natural” and “Organic” label on stuff and it’s almost sickening. Yeah, they have the power to change their marketing in an instant, but what are they REALLY doing for the good of the planet? So Oreo’s have organic flour and sugar… or so they say. Who is investigating that claim?I would much rather purchase products from Newman’s and the like than give my money to giant companies – just because now they slap the organic label on their products because it’s popular.Luckily, those of us that eat truly healthy and organic products are intelligent enough to know it takes more than just changing your label to change our minds. And, we can be out in the public educating people about the truly wonderful organic products on the market.

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Susan Corso

posted April 10, 2007 at 3:58 pm

Has anyone else eaten an organic Oreo? I have, and they’re not so good. Real or imagined organics aside, for me the whole point to an Oreo is its gustatory forbiddenness. I eat them so rarely that when I do, I want them to be their good old wickedly delicious selves. Otherwise, what’s the point?

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Anonymous Also

posted April 10, 2007 at 4:19 pm

I think my first post disappeared quicker than a regular Oreo :-), so I’ll try again… I’ve not ate an Organic Oreo, and if they’re as flat, dry, and disgusting as the Fat Free kind, I won’t be anytime soon.

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posted April 10, 2007 at 4:34 pm

the bottomline with the big food industries is always money. they like to give us what they think we want and charge us more for it…like sugar free. The only way to get an organic cookie that you know is good for you is to cook it your self from organic products. Who really knows what all they put in that junk anyway. I figure if I can’t pronounce it, then its probably not something I want to put in my body.

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posted April 11, 2007 at 1:22 pm

Look kids: get real. “Organic” farming may be better for the environment (although “ofganic” is not necessarily synonymous with “sustainable”), but the reality is that pesticide residues in foods like Oreos are a “red herring” at best, when it comes to assessing whether or not such foods should be included in your diet. Organic white flour and refined sugar are just as bad for your long term health and waistline as the regular stuff. It’s still low in fiber and nutrients…it will still jack up your insulin just as effectively as the standard stuff. That is the real problem with junk/snack foods like Oreos. In this case “organic” is simply a marketing tool – and you’re not doing yourself any favors, whether it’s coming from a Community Wealth Enterprise like “Newman’s Own” or an agribusiness conglomerate like Nabisco.

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posted April 11, 2007 at 7:58 pm

I think even though it says Organic you still have to read the labels.

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