Is Organic Food Always Sustainable?

As the demand for organic foods increases, suppliers are importing crops from overseas, calling into question some of the environmental benefits.
July 16, 2006, 5am PDT | maryereynolds
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Stonyfield Farm is working on a deal to import organic milk powder from New Zealand; Clif Bar imports organic almonds from Spain. Barbara Robinson, head of the Agriculture Department's National Organic Program says the United States is importing far more organic food than it exports. The U.S. also imports more conventional food than it exports. According to Robinson, "That is how you stimulate growth, [by] imports generally. Your own industry says we're tired of importing this; why should I pay for imports when I could start producing myself?"

What is good for business may be bad for sustainability. "If organic is something created in the image of sustainable agriculture, we certainly haven't accomplished that yet," said Urvashi Rangan, a scientist for Consumers Union. However, Stonyfield and Organic Valley are working to increase the number of organic farms in the U.S., paying farmers to help them switch or boost production.

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Published on Thursday, July 6, 2006 in San Diego Union Tribune
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