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Could an Organic Twinkie Be Nutritious?

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We tend to agree that an organic apple is more nutritious than a non-organic apple. Does it follow that an organic Twinkie is more nutritious than a non-organic Twinkie. Would we unconsciously elevate the Twinkie to the nutritional level of an apple if it had on organic label on it?

Organic has become big business. Conscious consumers demand it. Food manufacturers capitalize on it. We eat it.

Organic used to imply small-scale, local, nutritious and sustainable. Hijacked by industrial food processors, the notion of an organic Twinkie, once considered the “ultimate food irony,” has become a reality with items like organic frosted toaster pastries popping up in supermarket shelves.

How did organic lose its roots? Joan Dye Gussow, named the “matriarch of the eat-locally-think-globally food movement” by the New York Times, explains how organic became all about process instead of product beginning with the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 (OFPA).

In 1996, during the time the National Organic Standards Board and the U.S. Department of Agriculture were implementing regulations for OFPA, she wrote Can an Organic Twinkie Be Certified? Decrying the proliferation of food products manufactured in organic guise, she showed how the ingredients in a Twinkie could be slightly modified to make it certified organic.

“What is it about the idea of an organic Twinkie that so appalls the rest of the organic community?” she asks. “We should probably start with health. Surely any organic food ought to be healthy. There’s no need to debate whether — all other things being equal — an organic apple is demonstrably more nutritious than an apple raised non-organically. All other things are almost never equal enough to prove that definitively. But we feel instinctively that organic foods ought to be nutritious, and a Twinkie — composed almost entirely of refined carbohydrate and fat tarted up with artificial colors and flavors — doesn’t seem to fit any definition of nutritious that would satisfy.”

Joan’s article gives insight into the true meaning of organic and how the organic label should have evolved to assure us that “appropriate scale, localness, community control, personal knowledge, good nutrition, social justice, broad citizen participation, close grower/eater relationships and farmer connections with schools and communities were embedded in what we ate.” However, “When a certified organic Twinkie or its equivalent turns up in the supermarket it will be a signal that organic no longer carries such assurances.”

> Read the full article: http://joansgarden.org/Twinkie.pdf

About Joan Dye Gussow

Joan Dye Gussow, EdD, is Professor emerita and former chair of the Nutrition Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she has been a long-time analyst and critic of the U.S. food system. In her classic 1978 book The Feeding Web: Issues in Nutritional Ecology, which tracked the environmental hazards of an increasingly globalizing food system, she foreshadowed by several decades the current interest in relocalizing the food supply. Her subsequent books include The Nutrition Debate (1986), Chicken Little, Tomato Sauce and Agriculture (1991), and This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader (2001), the latter based on the lessons learned from decades of working toward growing her own. Her 2010 book, Growing, Older, is as its subtitle suggests, a garden-based collection of “reflections on death, life and vegetables”.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Dye_Gussow