Horizon Organics – redux

It’s something that I’ve touched upon before, and now Salon covers with a high-exposure front page article(ad viewing needed to read): Horizon Organics aren’t following traditional organic practices.

Ergo, they ain’t organic.

From the article:

What most consumers don’t know is that at Horizon’s big dairies, such as the one in Idaho, the cows are raised in a manner that most experts don’t consider organic. According to former Horizon Idaho dairy workers, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of jeopardizing their current jobs, Horizon cows graze for only four or five hours a day and during only three months in the summer. While Horizon claims the cows get plenty of fresh air, that’s because the barns are open structures. Their cows can see the fields but mostly aren’t walking around in them. “Most of the time, the cows are inside the barn,” says one former employee, who worked on the Idaho farm for eight years.

The article goes on to mention two points:

  • 1. Grass fed is better for the cow than grain fed (something we’ve also discussed here), and leads to better tasting milk. Horizon feeds their cows “alfalfa hay, oats, soybeans, and grains such as barley and corn”, which is far from grass-fed.
  • 2. There is no clearly defined certification method for determining what constitutes “organic” at a farm. This leads to loose interpretation of standards, something in which Horizon clearly takes advantage of.

It’d be easy for me to get into the larger political and corporate positions here, but what it comes down to as a consumer is this…if you have a standard to which you apply when you shop for food, you need to educate yourself on who exactly is selling you your food. This means your grocer, this means the food producers, and this means the farms. Failure to do this means that some unscrupulous corporation is going to take advantage of your ignorance.

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