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Interesting piece in the New York Times this morning about how restaurants don’t have the same restrictions on how they are able to use “organic” as a descriptor for their businesses.

Here’s how the Times frames the story:

“While farms and other businesses that want to advertise their wares as organic have to answer to certifying organizations that conduct annual inspections for the Department of Agriculture, restaurants do not. A restaurant can seek organic certification if it wants, but is not required to.

“Under the department’s current rules, restaurants (characterized as ‘retail food establishments)’ may call their food organic if they have made what Jennifer Tucker, the deputy administrator of the National Organic Program, called a ‘reasonable’ effort to use organic ingredients.

“There is no precise definition, however, of what constitutes a reasonable effort, and no monitoring body for enforcement. If the department receives a complaint that a restaurant is falsely billing its food as organic, Ms. Tucker said, it will investigate the claim and if necessary, send a letter asking the owner to stop using the term.”

Restaurants were exempted from standards established by the the National Organic Program, run by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Tucker tells the Times, because the “certification process is expensive, and it was thought that requiring compliance might impose too heavy a burden on restaurateurs.”
KC's View:
My belief is that “organic” ought to mean “organic.” Not “mostly organic,” and not “as organic as I can make it.” And the same standards ought to apply to every business.