Organic Food and Preservatives

Unfortunately, there are no natural models for preserving food the way it's found in supermarkets. Today, food with a long shelf life is the cornerstone of the food industry, providing most of the revenue and profits. In wealthier locales, an impressive array of technologies is used to make food "last" longer: home refrigerators and freezers at the consumer end, and industrial and chemical practices applied along the food production chain, from seed to field to fridge or table.

In general, organic standards cover in detail this entire process, specifying what is an "organic" ingredient or practice. However, since there is little natural reference for preparing, for example, a precooked, frozen dinner, a "certified organic" label on such an item may be hard to understand. The main ingredients are one thing, the processes and additives used to assemble and preserve them are quite another.

This leads to a possibility that may seem startling and impractical in developed nations: most of what is found in supermarkets today can never be called "organic", in the broadest, "all-natural", fresh or minimally processed sense. The idea is not new, and whole foods have long been part of the health food diet. But if demand for organics intensifies, one may conclude that agribusiness interests dictate taking as much control as possible of the definition of "organic food", particularly by including production practices that facilitate food preservation, in order to maintain the existing industry infrastructure.

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