(from the Big Organic chapter, p157)
Along with the national list of permissible synthetics, “access to pasture,” and, for other organic animals, “access to the outdoors” indicate how the word “organic” has been stretched and twisted to admit the very sort of industrial practices for which it once offered a critique and an alternative. The final standards also demonstrate how, in Gene Kahn’s words, “everything eventually morphs into the way the world is.” And yet the pastoral values and imagery embodied in that word survive in the minds of many people, as the marketers of organic food well understand: Just look at a container of organic milk, with its happy cows and verdant pastures. Thus is a venerable ideal hollowed out, reduced to a sentimental conceit printed on the side of a milk carton: Supermarket Pastoral.
Was going to stop there, but an interesting counterpoint follows:
Get over it, Gene Kahn would say. The important thing, the real value of putting organic on an industrial scale, is the sheer amount of acreage it puts under organic management. Behind every organic TV dinner or chicken or carton of industrial organic milk stands a certain quantity of land that will no longer be doused with chemicals, an undeniable gain for the environment and the public health.