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Organic, INC.: Natural Foods and How They Grow    by Samuel Fromartz order for
Organic, INC.
by Samuel Fromartz
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

With new diet fads around every corner, fast food restaurants offering healthy options, and nutritional information now available on every food label, it's clear that North Americans are more interested than ever before in what they put into their bodies. Thus, it's no surprise that 'sales of organic food had shot up about 20 percent per year since 1990, reaching $11 billion by 2003.'

But what is organic food? What makes it good for you? Is it healthier? More nutritional? Where does it come from? Should consumers even care? These questions and many like them have abounded since the boom of the organic food industry, but many consumers remained clueless. Sure, organic sounds better than processed, but is it the same as natural? Is it low fat? Loaded with vitamins and minerals? Business writer Samuel Fromartz sets out to offer the answers to these questions and more in this interesting, easy to understand book.

Organic, INC. is organized in seven comprehensive chapters. The first, Humus Worshippers, outlines the origins of organic food. Born out of a desire to move away from dangerous, toxic pesticides, 'organic food was invented in the early twentieth century, not out of a blind yearning for an agrarian past, but as a reaction to new agricultural methods'. From there, Fromartz moves on to describe The Organic Method versus more conventional farming. 'Once farmers work a certain way,' Fromartz tells us, 'breaking out requires not simply changing a few practices but altering the conceptions of their farms, land, and even way of life.'

In chapter three, A Local Initiative, we're taken through the process of bringing organic food from a small, family-run farm to the market, and ultimately, to a consumer's plate. In chapter four, A Spring Mix, the focus changes from the small farm to a large corporation specializing in organic produce.

But perhaps the most important and interesting chapter is chapter five, Mythic Manufacturing, in which Fromartz explores the many myths of organic food. Ultimately, consumers understand that organic food is generally better for them, but the reasons behind this belief often have more to do with marketing spin than with knowledge and consumer education. This sets the tone nicely for the following chapter, Backlash, in which we learn what organic food really means. And finally, in chapter seven, Consuming Organic, the reasons behind why we really buy and consume organic foods are brought to light.

Our motivation is clear: we want to be healthier, and our shopping choices reflect that. But do we really know what we're putting into our bodies, or are we buying into the organic hype? Organic, INC. is an excellent resource for anyone wishing to learn more about the organic food industry.

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