Should Beer Be Labeled "Organic" If It's Made With Non-Organic Hops?

The more we continue to live and breathe on this earth the more we realize that the term “organic” is really just code for “awesome marketing idea.”

The USDA has proposed to change the “National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances,” to include 38 non-organic ingredients that organic food producers have been mistakenly using in their products, according to the Consumer Law & Policy Blog. The list in question consists of the substances that are allowed in food labeled “organic,” and currently contains 5 items.

How were organic food makers getting away with using, for example, non-organic casings for their sausages?

It all began with the Organic Foods Production Act. The act says that only ingredients included in the National List can be used in food labeled organic. The USDA, possibly because they’re too busy not protecting our food supply to read laws that pertain to them, said that any ingredient can be added to “organic” food as long as there is no “organic” substitute.

Understandably, these conflicting policies have been causing a lot of confusion. What’s the USDA’s solution? To change the law to include all the non-organic substances that “organic” food producers have been adding to their products. Most of the ingredients in question are chemicals used for artificial coloring, but the new list also includes hops—meaning that beer made from regular old non-organic hops could be used to make “organic” beer. Also included on the list are Chipotle peppers, with the rationale that the ones from Mexico taste better.

We can only assume that the price tags of these “organic” foods would still reflect that lovely “organic” certification. We’re not saying you should only eat organic food or be horrified that there is pesticide on your Chipotle peppers. We’re saying you should get what you pay for, and the labeling of “organic” food in the US seems to be broken, or at the very least, misleading. —MEGHANN MARCO

Would you call beer “organic” if it were made with non-organic hops? USDA would. [CL&P]
Proposed Rules [USDA]