It could be another milestone in organic food's evolution from crunchy to commercial: Wal-Mart, the king of mass retailing, is promising to "drive down organic food prices" with a new line of organic food products. The new products will be at least 25 percent cheaper than organic food that's on Wal-Mart's shelves right now.
It's easy to think of "organic" and "non-GMO" as the best buddies of food. They sit comfortably beside each other in the same grocery stores — most prominently, in Whole Foods Market. Culturally, they also seem to occupy the same space. Both reject aspects of mainstream industrial agriculture.
In fact, the increasingly successful movement to eliminate genetically modified crops — GMOs — from food is turning out to be organic's false friend. The non-GMO label has become a cheaper alternative to organic.
The other morning, I found myself staring at something strange and unfamiliar: empty grocery shelves with the word "eggs" above them. The store, a Whole Foods Market in Washington, D.C., blamed, in another sign, the dearth on "increased demand for organic eggs."
This scene is unfolding in grocery stores across the country. But Whole Foods' sign wasn't telling the whole truth. Demand for organic eggs is indeed increasing, but production is also down.
The reason behind that shortfall highlights an increasingly acute problem in the organic industry.
A 26-part series on genetically modified food was not Nathanael Johnson's idea. And he didn't realize it would take six months, either.
Last year, Johnson was hired as the new food writer for Grist, a website for environmental news and opinion. Grist's editor, Scott Rosenberg, was waiting with an assignment: Dig into the controversy over GMOs.
Fresh fruits and vegetables make up the largest portion of the organic food sector.
Credit NatalieMaynor / Flickr/Creative Commons
Walk into a grocery store these days and you’re likely to find whole sections devoted to organic foods. To produce them all and fill the market for organic food, acreage continues to rise. In Colorado alone, acreage of organic crops has more than doubled in the past fifteen years.