The Three Shades of Organic and Being at peace with your choices
On our recent family trip to Hawaii, I had the wonderful opportunity to share with my brother-in-law, some perspectives on organic food choices, and what it means to me. What prompted the discussion on this subject was his question regarding the standards and legitimacy of organic food certifications, here in the USA. The focus was primarily on packaged foods, as they require a relatively detailed itemization of ingredients, when compared to fresh produce that has just…you guessed it right - one ingredient!
As I continued to reflect upon this question, I realized that in my experience with organic packaged foods, I have noticed at least three distinct types of certified organic products out there.
The first kind is where the food companies embrace the highest standards, using ingredients that are easily recognizable (even by your great grandparent!) and often locally sourced when possible. The stewards of such organizations hold themselves to the highest ethical standards and offer their customers superior quality products. The ingredients in their packaged foods are not only organic, but also devoid of any food additives or derivatives such as, gums, fillers, enhancers, preservatives, etc., and are generally sourced via fair-trade practices. These are products that can boast of being 99.99% organic, and which can be easily substantiated.
The second type is where the food companies do their best to adhere to the minimum standards required for receiving a USDA organic certification. The current requirement is that companies use at least 95% organic ingredients in their food products. They are free to do whatever they choose, for the remaining 5% of the ingredients, provided they conform to the “National list of allowed ingredients”. This is where you will - in addition to simple and recognizable ingredients - also see ingredients such as, natural flavors (sometimes derived from likely natural, but highly questionable sources such as, secretions from the anal glands of beavers), preservatives, gums, thickeners, and other synthetic and non-synthetic derivatives. The stewards of such organizations do the minimum required so as to retain their organic certification, thereby also meeting the demands of their customers for organic options.
The third kind is where the food companies are interested in bringing organic food products into the market with the primary intention of gaining additional market share. Many of these companies, have for generations been manufacturers of conventional/ non-organic packaged foods. However, as the bandwagon of organic food consumption has increased multifold, these companies are either buying out existing organic food brands/ companies or creating an organic version of their already existing conventional food item. The stewards of such organizations are in the organic business primarily for market share and profits, and as a consequence of their business decision, they impact the wellbeing of their customers. It is rarely the other way around (i.e. wellbeing before profit).
Irrespective of the fact, whether we are producers or consumers, I am realizing that the fundamental choices we make in life (food related or otherwise), inform us of who we are and what we are becoming. In turn, our conscious awareness of who we truly are (and are becoming), informs our fundamental choices. The question is, “Are we in integrity with who we are on the inside and how we want to be expressing ourselves on the outside?” In order to be in harmony within and without, we must be in vibrational alignment with our choices. Just as we continue to evolve and grow internally, so will the choices we make externally, reflect our inner shifts (and values).
Information is power, only when we can use it to empower ourselves with the intention of serving the highest good (of self, and if inspired, of all beings with whom we share our planet).
Having said all this, I admit that in day-to-day life it is not all the time possible to practice being in integrity within and without. For instance, if I had my way when buying any packaged food, I would always choose from among the first type of organic food option, described above. However, during our recent Hawaii trip, we had access to a couple of stores nearby that did carry organic food options, yet not all belonging to the first category (i.e., my first default choice). Instead of being fanatical, I chose to be grateful, which in turn helped me take the practical step of choosing from among the available options, the ones that were most compliant to the needs of my family. And guess what? There was no guilt and no stress! In those (grocery shopping) moments, I experienced a vibrational alignment with my choices, even though the circumstances were not completely ideal. Having thus surrendered to the unfolding reality of the moment, I felt a sense of inner peace.
I wish you an organically designed life, per your choosing – moment-to-moment. May you experience the peace, harmony and empowerment this brings you.
by Nilanjana Krishnan