If you’re going to shell out the extra shekels for organic food, you’re want to be confident that you’re getting the real deal.
Personally, I think the price of organic food is worth paying, whether you’re buying it for selfish reasons (taste, avoiding nasty chemicals and GMOs) or altruistic ones (treading lightly our small country) and until recently, as far as I was concerned, anything in Israel labelled with the O-Word must be licensed and inspected by a government-authorised organisation.
So it came as a surprise to find out recently that organic labelling in Israel isn’t such as a clear-cut issue. A new law was passed by the Knesset last week with the intention of ensuring that organic food on sale in Israel really is organic. But the Israel Bio-organic Agriculture Association (IBOAA) claims that the law will not prohibit or limit the use of the term ‘organic’, and that any farmer will still be able to label his produce as they wish, reports Ha’aretz.
To be honest, after re-reading the Ha’aretz article (‘Organic’ label can mislead, warns Bio-organic Agro society) several times, I’m still left in the dark about what can and can’t be called ‘organic’. On the one hand, it says that organic food must be labelled with the Ministry of Agriculture logo plus the symbol of one of three licensed organic certifiers: Agrior, Skal Israel or IQC. So far, so good. But IBOAA maintains that the problem lies in enforcement: “The law will provide no advantage, and could even result in deception. The knowledge that a legal arrangement exists may lead consumers to mistakenly assume that the word organic appearing on labels means that the product is being supervised,” says Oranit Raz, IBOAA director.
Because most of Israel’s organic food is exported, mainly to the European Union and the UK (which has the most robust organic farming standards in the world), it needs to be strictly regulated to meet equivalent standards, otherwise the eco-friendly avocadoes and sweet potatoes will be sent on the first boat (or aeroplane) back to the Middle East. Shouldn’t Israelis who buy organic have the same peace of mind?
:: Ha’aretz, ‘Organic’ label can mislead, warns Bio-organic Agro society + Hebrew.
Photo: Michael Green, Eden organic food store, Or Yehuda.