Most of you have never heard of Aurora Dairy, but you definitely have seen their products. They are THE organic dairy producer for grocery stores’ “generic” brands of organic milk and butter products. Their goal is to make organic dairy affordable for the masses. This sounds great, but at what cost? Does the consumer prefer the word organic to be placed on the label or would they like organically produced milk inside the carton?
Ever since the USDA has taken over to “regulate” the organic industry, large companies have been working to degrade and evade the standards to fit the price and business model. What once was the marking of quality, purity and integrity, has becomes the USDA seal that represents that the manufacturer has paid to be certified and that an inspector will come check up on their paperwork and procedures once a year. Any violations found will result in giving the manufacturer time to correct the violations in order to keep the organic certification.
Aurora was accused of having “14″ willful violations of the organic rules when inspected by the USDA.
Accusations ranged from selling milk from non-organic cows awaiting the one year time frame to convert to organic, to not letting cows out to pasture due to over processing. I have not met an organic milk consumer who thought that cows that were not yet certified were appropriate milk sources for their organic milk, or one that felt organic cows that have no access (in some of Aurora’s cases) to pasture would make for a good end product.
Aurora does not practice organics in the way that consumers expect or perceive it to be. They do follow the rules when an inspector is present, and that, they have proved in court.
I believe this represents a new trend of large food manufacturers manipulating the meaning and rules to make organic a marketing tool for them, while degrading quality and expectation for the rest of us (the real organic consumers).
Sonja Tuitele, vice president of communications for Aurora said it best, “Because Aurora Organic Dairy’s products have always been produced with valid organic certifications, this outcome ends any disputes or questions about whether our products are organic. This is also a victory for the organic industry as a whole, as it bolsters consumer confidence that they can trust products bearing the USDA organic seal.”
Mr. Tuitele is happy enough with what certifiers say and what a government agency can regulate, rather than what the consumer expects and has the right to be delivered. The organic industry he is speaking of is now lining the shelves of our country’s supermarkets and discount stores rather than our natural food stores where the concept was born.
Natural food stores with integrity are now doing their own reviews to ensure the customer gets what they expect despite the national organic standards. That is exactly what Native Sun has been doing since we opened in 1997, and it is what we will continue to do to ensure your health, safety and trust.