I like walnut bread. Freshly made, straight out of the oven, with a hint of sweetness from the added honey and the crunchy texture of walnuts from my very own walnut tree, it really is hard to beat. (I have included my recipe for walnut bread at the end of this blog). As happens, I had run out of organic flour, so trundled down to the local health food shop to buy more. My local shop has recently begun stocking flour they called “organic”. And there it was – in a large plastic bin complete with a label proudly advising consumers that it was organic. I looked closely at the label showing the fat, protein, and carbohydrate contents. However, there was nothing on the label to say who had certified the flour was organic or where it had come from. When I asked the sales assistant to tell me who the organic certifier was, I was met with a blank expression signifying – I think – that she did not know what I was talking about. When I explained that, as a consumer, I was entitled to ask who the certifying body was, I was told I was being difficult, and was “giving her a hard time”. All because I asked for something that is standard practice for retailers of organic food!
My recent experience was not unusual. The very same day I went into a self-proclaimed “organic shop” to buy some organic vegetables (by the way, it is worth mentioning that just because a it calls itself an “organic shop” does not mean that everything it sells is organic). There were lots of “organic” fruits and vegetables to choose from, with prices that apparently reflected this (double or more the non-organic price). Once again there was an absence of certification details for much of the produce. In view of my earlier experience, I weighed up whether to risk confrontation with the shop owner and decided against asking them for the certification information and walked out of the shop. It further illustrated the consumer has to be quite assertive when shopping for organic food. But why should they have to be? Read the rest of this entry »