AFF Sees Hopeful Sign From EWG During Eco-Farm Conference

1/26/2016 11:50 AM

Last week, the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) staff attended the Eco Farm Conference in Pacific Grove, California.  It was the first time the AFF had the opportunity to attend this well-run conference and it was an interesting and insightful experience where we saw old friends and met some new ones as well.

Among the educational sessions we attended was a presentation by Laura Batcha, CEO of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  EWG is the author of the so-called “dirty dozen” list, which inaccurately calls into question the safety of the most popular fruits and veggies. Batcha’s and Cook’s presentation and dialogue largely focused on the successes of the organic movement and how to navigate the future to meet consumer demand while keeping a sense of “community” within the industry.

As expected, Cook bashed conventional farming numerous times calling these products “full of GE’s and pesticides.”  At one point, Cook also told the audience that “you didn’t start your farms with government help,” implying that all conventional farmers are subsidized while organic farmers are not.  For fruit and vegetable farmers, neither conventional  nor organic farmers receive subsidies and fall into the entrepreneur category – proudly so.

However, there was a bright spot in Cook’s presentation.  When an audience member asked the panelists to give a 30-second message on why to buy organic, Cook took a more positive stance.  Instead of using the language preferred by EWG over the last 20 years, which focuses on promoting fear of conventionally grown (calling these products pesticide-laden, dirty, toxic, contaminated) to market organic, Cook invoked the word “joy.”  His message:  “Experience the joy of organic.” 

Good for you Mr. Cook. Finally a nice positive message with no inaccurate bashing.  Isn’t this a better way to promote organic products?  There is simply no need to unfairly disparage conventionally grown when promoting organic. This is especially true since the science shows that both organic and conventionally grown fruits and veggies are safe and can be consumed with confidence.  And, we should all be eating more. Whether you prefer organic or conventional  – do so with confidence and ENJOY!

Cook’s answer gives hope that there will be a movement away from fear-based marketing that disparages healthy, safe and the more readily available conventionally grown fruits and veggies and undermines public health efforts to increase consumption.  After attending the Eco Farm Conference it is even more apparent that this tactic isn’t necessary at all because there are plenty of great things to say about organically grown.  And, the Eco Farm Conference is a great place to “experience the joy” firsthand.

Read, learn, choose but eat more organic and conventionally grown fruits and veggies for better health and a longer life.


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