Cornucopia Wants to Know
[This article was previously published in the summer issue of The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]
by Anne Ross, JD, Director of International Policy at The Cornucopia Institute
For Cornucopia’s team, every workday reminds us of our mission to safeguard organic integrity. This mission is built on values we share with each other, our members, and an increasing number of consumers all over the world.
Our work has always included an emphasis on consumer education. Whether it’s about organic food production, products available in the marketplace, or the personal stories of the hard-working farmers who produce our organic food, Cornucopia’s goal remains the same.
We strive to ensure the organic label represents all that it promises. But some producers offer more transparency and integrity to consumers than others. While we maintain organic is always a better option than conventional, we aim to highlight the organic products that are truly exceptional.
Our reports and scorecards give consumers the tools they need to support organic brands that meet their expectations. With these objectives in mind, we need your input! We want to know which products you’d like to learn more about and those you would like to see rated.
Over the years, we’ve received requests to write about many products—from organic coffee and chocolate, to organic beer and beef. Cornucopia’s staff is excited to turn our efforts to investigating some of these products in the upcoming months.
Consider organic coffee. The U.S. imports more coffee than any other product. Chances are, your morning cup of organic joe was imported from Peru, Mexico, or another country with a suitable growing climate.
As with other certified organic crops, organic coffee is grown by farmers without the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, thereby protecting soil health and the health of farmers. The pesticides often used in conventional coffee production wreak havoc on human and environmental health.
As you enjoy that cup, rest assured that organic coffee is better for the environment, farm workers, and coffee lovers. Because most organic coffee is imported, people have inquired how we can be sure organic coffee imports meet our standards, how its production is different from conventional, and where they might purchase home-grown organic coffee beans. These questions are on Cornucopia’s agenda to investigate.
Those with a hankering for chocolate will be happy to hear that Cornucopia will also be researching organic cacao—how the beans are grown, how that delicious organic chocolate bar is made, and from where the cacao was sourced. Like organic coffee, organic cacao is largely imported from Central and South America. These regions are supplying an ever-increasing number of domestic chocolate makers.
While chocolate and coffee aficionados want to know their beans, beer drinkers tell us they want to know their hops. U.S. organic beer sales have increased dramatically since the early 2000s, and recent statistics suggest they are valued at over $90 million.
Certified organic beer must contain 95% organic ingredients, including organically grown hops. Additives such as yeast, carrageenan (commonly used to clarify beer), and calcium sulfate generally make up the remaining 5% of non-organic ingredients.
Some of our readers want to know more about organic hops production, brewery sourcing, and which breweries are crafting certified organic beer.
Finally, if you’d like a certified organic burger with that beer, you’ll be pleased to learn an organic beef report is high on our priority list.
Buying certified organic beef supports cattle that have been given access to the outdoors, fed organic feed, and raised without growth hormones or antibiotics. Additionally, grass-fed, organic beef is leaner than its conventional counterpart and higher in key nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids.
So next time you’re out shopping or when you open the cupboard door, consider the organic products you’d like to know more about. Maybe beer or beef isn’t your bag and you’d rather hear about baby food. Whatever that food might be, we want to hear from you!