Last week, while taking a break from updating the Web site for our program “The Ethics of Eating” I decided to see if I could find any images that would be useful for an upcoming program about China.

Next thing I knew, I found myself reading about ethical eating once again, stumbling upon the image above, which was used in a blog post about organic food products from China. The post briefly discusses the questionable certification of organic foods coming from China, and quotes a 2006 article from the Dallas Morning News:

Fred Gale, a senior USDA economist who has researched Chinese agriculture, said it was “almost impossible to grow truly organic food in China.”

“The water everywhere is polluted, and the soil is contaminated from industry and mining, and the air is bad.”

The story continues:

The USDA National Organic Program does not certify foods as organic; it certifies organic certification agencies. Forty of these are in foreign countries.

Many of the responses we’ve received for the recent rebroadcast of Krista’s conversation with Barbara Kingsolver were skeptical, to say the least. While this article by no means proves that all organic foods from China are fraudulent, it reaffirms for me that this sort of skepticism is probably necessary for this issue. Our cultural relationship with food continues to need reevaluation, but a larger solution may not be so simple as growing food on your own land (if you’re lucky enough to own land) or buying items stamped “organic” at the grocery store.

(Photo: Mike Licht/flickr)

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