Organic’s Dirty Little Secret

Organic Produce

Remember when Victoria’s “Secret” came out last December? The lingerie company had been buying cotton for its “fair-trade, organic-cotton” underwear line from a farm in Africa that used child labor.

This infuriated customers who assumed they had an unspoken deal with manufacturers:

We pay a premium price for organics—and you provide us with healthy products that make the world a better place.

The Problem

“Green” products have grown so popular that some companies are finding it tough to keep up with market demands—while still upholding their humanitarian and earth-friendly ideals.

“Organic labeling laws help you identify food grown without added pesticides and hormones, but the system does have its flaws,” says Mark Kastel, from the watchdog group The Cornucopia Institute.

The Solution

Given that no one has time to vet every single company or claim, your best bet is to rely on the scorecards for organic products put out by The Cornucopia Institute and the Environmental Working Group.

At the very least, you can refuse to buy from companies that display an “organic” label—and charge a premium—without following earth-friendly practices. That’s smart for the world and your wallet.

Marisa Cohen is a freelance writer living in New York City.

Join the Discussion