Last night Johanna Bäker made a wonderful salad, for which one of the ingredients was Cascadian Farm frozen organic edamame shelled soybeans. The package had these labels:
- Cascadian Farm Organic
- Photo of the Cascade Mountains
- Founded in Skagit Valley, WA
- USDA Organic
- Distributed by Small Planet Foods, Inc., Sedro-Woolly, WA 98284 USA
and this text on the back:
When we founded Cascadian Farm in 1972, we knew that good food started with caring for our land. Today, you can still be sure our delicious organic foods are good for you, your family, and the world we share. Stop by and visit the home farm in Rockport, Washington!
But there’s one more label: Product of China.
I find the packaging misleading. These soybeans weren’t grown on “our land” in Skagit Valley, Washington. They were shipped from China, halfway around the world. The Cascadian Farm website extolls us to live greener, “helping to protect the planet for many generations to come.” Shipping food from China is not green.
It is doubtful how organic any food can be that comes from China, a country where adulteration of food seems to be the norm. For example, cheap pine nuts exported from China have been reported to leave a bitter, metallic aftertaste that lasts for up to two weeks. In 2007, pets in the United States died or became seriously ill after being fed pet food from China that had been adulterated with melamine or cyanuric acid by Chinese food manufacturers. In 2008, six babies died and hundreds of thousands of children in China were sickened by melamine-tainted milk. The adulteration of milk with melamine continues to this day, leading to additional arrests in China last year and early this year.
Our ability to conduct meaningful inspections of “organic” food from China is doubtful. Less than a year ago, as reported by the New York Times and elsewhere, the USDA stopped using a private inspector of food from China because of a conflict of interest. In February of this year, the USDA announced “the circulation of a fraudulent National Organic Program (NOP) organic certificate produced by an uncertified operation” from China.
The lesson for me is to read food packages more carefully. In general, I simply do not buy food produced in China.