With increasing awareness of the benefits of proper nutrition, organic food has taken the world by storm.
Organic food sales in the US have grown by 20% annually consistently in the last few years (1).
Some large companies have even started offering loans and incentives to get farmers to switch to organic crops.
In fact, the demand for organic food has gotten so big that it’s even made its way across the ocean to Asia.
It’s important too, since the United States now spends close to 1 billion dollars a year to import organic food. The USDA estimates that the current ratio of imported to exported products is now about 8-to-1.
While the US mainly relies on imports from Europe, the ever-increasing demand has us to looking towards China to meet our needs.
Unfortunately, China’s lax food standards have also translated into its organic exports.
China’s Toxic Exports
According to the New York Times, a Chinese quality regulator estimated that “nearly a fifth of the food and consumer products… checked in a nationwide survey this year were found to be substandard or tainted.” (2)
Foods, clothing, products, and other goods sampled by regulators exposed worrying quality and safety failures that put Chinese and American consumers at risk.
The Chinese government also admitted that its found canned, preserved, and dried contaminated with harmful bacteria as well as substandard quality in up to 20% of inspected samples. Children’s products that were examined were even found to be defective or laced with harmful chemicals.
Organic Chinese Veggies
In North America and Europe, food has to be grown according to strict standards to be labeled as organic.
These standards don’t seem to apply to China, where there are no official regulations in place.
In fact, US Customs often rejects entire shipments of Chinese produce. These foods are can be filled with chemical additives, contaminated with toxic pesticides, and are not to par with American hygiene standards (3).
Plus, farmers and food exporters have begun scamming consumers by labeling dirty or misshapen produce as “organic”. And since there’s no system to classify & regulate organic food, consumers are being charged more for conventionally-grown products of lower quality (4).
Chinese citizens even question the quality of the food grown and sold in their country due to the corruption in the government and farming industry.
Worse yet, the water used to grow these foods is contaminated with animal waste, industrial waste, and other toxins. Simply living near a contaminated waterway can cause disease, never mind eating food grown with it. For one, in the Yangtze river alone, pollution has killed over 110 tons of fish (5).
Heavy metals, ammonia, as well as endocrine-disrupting perchlorate, a precursor to rocket fuel, are found in sewage and have even been detected in rice, bottled drinking water, and milk (6).
Foods that are particularly at risk of mislabeling include:
- Apples and apple juice
- Black pepper
- Green peas
With all of these contaminants and concerns, it’s much safer to just purchase locally grown certified organic produce.