Beliefnet
Chattering Mind

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…..

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