Your “organic” restaurant meal may not be entirely organic
Published: October 4, 2018
Category: Organic News, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
Unlike farms and manufacturers offering organic fare, “organic” restaurant offerings aren’t required to be certified organic. According to the USDA’s National Organic Program, owners simply need to make a “reasonable effort” to use organic ingredients—and many owners and customers are fine with that.
Gil Rosenberg learned by happenstance that the burger he ate at Bareburger in Queens—though labeled “organic”— contained 75-80 percent organic beef. He began alerting customers of Barebaruger’s “effort to deceive.”
Bareburger’s chief executive Euripides Pelekanos prioritizes sourcing organic; originally he bought 100 percent organic beef but added a 75-80 percent beef blend to satisfy pricing and availability issues. Pelekanos has no plans to certify the 41 Bareburger outlets—a process involving extensive records, costly fees, and yearly inspections. He is, though, adding additional descriptors such as “local” and “sustainable.”
Alberto Gonzalez operated New York City’s first certified organic restaurant, Gustorganics; he cited the challenge of maintaining consistent organic supply. West Coast chain Organic Coup became certified to give customers the full confidence and transparency the organic label provides. When the National Organic Program was launched in 2002, restaurants were exempted due to anticipated compliance obstacles.
Vladimir Grinberg opened Organic Grill in Manhattan before organic certification existed—and has chosen not to certify. “Our own transparency and integrity makes us organic, not [a label],” he said.
Many consumers feel a restaurant’s attitude, mindset, and transparency are more important to them than a label. USDA doesn’t intend to change its rule regarding restaurants.
Source: New York Times
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