<a href="http://www.gmagazine.com.au/blogs/richard#">Life in the Slow Food Lane</a>

Life in the Slow Food Lane

A look at the eco side of eating, with Richard Cornish

Does the government hate organics?

parliament house

Parliament House, Canberra.

Credit: Wikimedia

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I don't think the government gets organic.

Recently I was speaking to a representative of FSANZ (Food Safety Australia New Zealand), the body responsible for the making the standards which our food manufacturers have to adhere to.

They control things like the amount of chemicals allowed in food, the labeling of Genetically Modified (GM) foods, and the recall of foods infected with bacteria or contaminated with pieces of plastic. They do a lot.

What they don't do is support the organic industry.

"I don't understand why Australians pay extra for organic produce," said a FSANZ spokesperson in Canberra. "Australian conventional produce has so little residual chemicals; they are perfectly safe. I can't see the point."

True. That is what they said. On the record.

In that one statement, not only did the spokesperson negate all the positive effects of organic farming, but they actively denigrated the practice by saying that the food costs more. That was one of the two points the spokesperson was making.

This is the official line from the government body responsible for our food safety, the same body that has allowed GM produce to be sold for human consumption in Australia and New Zealand.

In that one comment they dismissed the reasons people buy organic food.

They dismissed the fact that organic farmers do not use pesticides that may end up in the soil and waterways.

They dismissed the fact that organic farmers have declared their responsibility to the waterways on their farms.

They dismissed the fact that organic farmers eschew chemical fertilisers instead using compost and manure to not only feed the plants but to feed the insects and microbes that are make bio-diverse soils.

They dismissed the innovations made in processing and packaging by some of the organic producers.

They also disregarded the consumers who are willing to pay a premium to ensure their products are being created in a more sustainable form of agriculture.

I was offended. I buy organic and biodynamic vegetables. I don't even think of residual chemicals. I buy organic and biodynamic fruit and veg because, in general, they taste better. Their colour and flavour is deeper, they have integrity when cooked and they make really good dishes.

I was not offended by the comment itself; I was offended that a representative from a non elected government body could not only be so ignorant but choose to remain so whilst speaking publicly.