Help us protect real, organic food! Action Alert!
You may be buying produce that was not even grown in soil. In other words, when you think you’re purchasing a nutrient-rich meal, you may be paying for produce from a process that actually denies them those very nutrients.
Recently, an ANH-USA staff member ordered a salad at a restaurant. It was touted as “locally-sourced, no pesticides”—all the things natural health advocates look for in produce. On further questioning, however, the staff member found out that the produce was grown hydroponically.
Our staff member’s experience is not unique. Health-conscious consumers around the country are often being sold food under false pretenses.
Hydroponics is a technology for growing plants in water with dissolved fertilizers rather than actual soil. Produce grown hydroponically is often produced in massive warehouses under artificial lighting. The liquid fertilizers used to feed the plants can come from a variety of sources, including highly processed GMO soybeans.
No matter where one stands on hydroponic versus conventional agriculture, there is definitely a problem with calling hydroponic fruits and vegetables “organic”—an issue that the National Organic Standards Board is currently considering.
When the NOSB first defined “organic” in 1995, healthy soil was front and center. The definition held that organic agriculture was
an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony.
The NOSB redefined organic agriculture in 2002, but the idea of agricultural practices that cycle its resources was still central.
In short, soil is key to organic production, and for good reason. As we’ve reported before, plants interact with the microorganisms in the soil in complex and fascinating ways that obviously cannot be reproduced without soil. It is these interactions that account for the high nutrient content in the organic fruits and vegetables we eat. Microbes in the soil are also hugely important in converting organic matter into a form that plants can use. Our earlier article also explains why dousing plants in fertilizers, as they are in hydroponic production, yields less nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables.
The NOSB was supposed to decide whether hydroponic produce was eligible to be labeled as organic at their spring meeting earlier this month, but they kicked the can down the road and delayed making any decision.
So, until NOSB makes a determination on this issue, it’s “buyer beware.” In the meantime, send a message to the NOSB telling them what you think, and do the research to make sure the organic crops you’re buying aren’t hydroponically grown.
Action Alert! Send a message to the NOSB and tell them you strongly oppose designating hydroponically grown produce as organic, and ask them to ban this practice at their next meeting. Please send your message immediately.
Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health: