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Peter Laufer
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Organic: A Journalist's Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  192 ratings  ·  36 reviews
After eating some suspect "organic" walnuts that he was shocked to find were produced in Kazakhstan, veteran journalist Peter Laufer traces the origins of items in his pantry back to the source, learning how easily we are tricked into buying "organic" claims. Part food narrative, part investigation, part adventure story, Laufer's book is an informative and entertaining loo ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 1st 2015 by Lyons Press (first published July 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Jessica
Peter Laufer's "Organic: A Journalist's Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling" is a journalistic companion to books by the likes of Alice Waters and Michael Pollan, and should be required reading for anyone committed to the organic food movement and lifestyle. As Laufer's title implies, there is much confusion in the labels slapped on the food we consume, and many food producers and distributers go to great lengths to nurture the obfuscation of these labels. Laufer scrutinizes many we ...more
Jim Kahn
This book would have deserved five stars for its content, but I find the author's writing style to be incredibly boring and difficult to follow. I don't even know why, but I had to struggle through this even though I was very interested in the content.

Essentially, this is an expose on the industry of marketing and certifying organic produce. He does this primarily through an attempt to follow a bag of organic walnuts and a can of organic black beans back to their source, finding an impenetrable
...more
Audrey
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC of this book. It is informative, interesting reading. It is extremely detailed, sometimes difficult to follow, but the author has a writing style that holds your attention. We all know people who throw large amounts of money away on "organic" foods, believing that they will be healthier than anyone who doesn't. And we all know there is a great deal of fraud, cover-up, and downright lying going on. We have seen people buying putrid, horrid-tasting, even spoiled food labeled "org ...more
D
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All homemakers should read this book, especially if they are trying to buy healthful food for the sake of their husband and children as well as themselves. Although it is a nonfiction account of the author's investigation into the credibility of organic food labeling, Peter Laufer's quest often seems like the story line of a mystery novel. I found this book to be well researched, interesting, informative, and often quite exciting!

A special thank you to the author's wife, Sheila, who did a stella
...more
Chrislin
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. LAUFER OPENED MY EYES.
I read this book like I was getting ready for a test. I even did something I have NEVER done I wrote in the book. underlined passages. important stuff. I then checked food in my pantry. I found food by companies I thought I knew. They do not tell you where the food comes from. It concerns me. Dole mandarin oranges marked China. Meijer a huge super store in the mid-west the brand they support puts food in cans and just labels them by who they are distributed by. where d
...more
Kristan
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well worth reading inside look on how dysfunctional the USDA organic certification process is. The main issue is the conflicts of interest that arise when farmers and food processors inspect and certify as organic pay the inspection and certification operators for their services.

The author provides several cases of false organic goods (which can occur from forged certificates, conventional products tainting organic products,
and inconsistent global food regulations in the organic food industry)
...more
Geraldine (geraldinereads)
I got this book at BEA and boy am I glad I did! First of all, the author's writing style had me glued the entire time! As far as content goes, this was super informative and raises many questions that Americans don't usually think twice about; what makes something organic? Personally, I don't buy organic (unless I'm at a farmer's market, local farm, etc.) because I already had my doubts before reading this book. Great read for those that are on the fence about organic products or non-fiction in ...more
Rashida
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome read!!! It was an exciting quest, the unacceptable, hard to swallow realities of the international food production and distribution system probed by the intrepid Laufer with a peppering of humor and the salt of consistency throughout. In the middle, almost when you think you are growing a little jaded, Laufer's quest comes to a climactic finale that reveals both the virtues and the evils that coexist in the sprawling industry. We really should be asking more questions about our food. Tha ...more
Starr
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bottom line: The "organic" label is often too good to be true. ...more
D.L.
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you purchase organic food, trust the certification of organic food or think that there is one overriding consistent model for organic farming you should probably read this.
Chelsea
Mar 04, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to close this book multiple times while reading it. The author begins his investigation with the assumption that the organic food industry is corrupt to the core and clings to his bias throughout the book. He repeatedly insults his sources, and ignores or simply refuses to accept legitimate answers to his questions. Per his quite clear opinion, if the certification process isn't perfect and the rules aren't absolute, then they are not good enough, or worse, dishonest and corrupt. Add th ...more
Shelley Cooper-White
Organic is the anti-vax movement of the food industry; lots of emotional opinions with no basis in fact. Despite being a journalist and pretending to be impartial, this guy seems to love eating organic just because his wife has decided she doesn't believe in "nasties"? Guy of privilege writes book to encourage people of privilege to waste money on organic food.
I’m all for judicious food choices to reduce your environmental impact, but this guy is off his chops. Wouldn't recommend.
...more
Jaki
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fairly straight-forward look at both how important organic food is to the environment and our health as well as how the whole labeling system can be misunderstood and outright corrupted. I thought it was a balanced approach and really puts the responsibility back on the buyer to be aware and educated about their choices.
Marija
I did not care for the writing style used in this book. The author uses more words than are necessary to explain his points. He is all over the place, literally, which creates a lack of cohesiveness throughout the book. I did take away a couple of points that I can apply to my everyday journey through the organic food world.
Donald Ozello
Good book on an interesting topic. The author does a good job describing his adventure and the people he meets along the way.
Jennifer Rauch
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A crucial book! If you buy organic food, read this to know what you're getting. Laufer brings the reader on an entertaining and informative quest. He's a Polk-Award-winning investigative reporter--the real deal. I'm scrutinizing my pantry right now, with Sharpie marker in hand... ...more
Jill
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter Laufer decides to write about the organic food industry after purchasing a bag of nuts from Trader Joe's that claims to be organic and to have been sourced from Kazakhstan, and a can of beans purportedly from Bolivia. He is skeptical about these claims and about the honesty of organic labels in general. His skepticism echoes the concerns of many of us, and I was eager to read about his investigative process and to discover the truth. Laufer travels to farms and interviews trade representat ...more
Jim Kisela
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was a little suspicious of how quickly the main stream industrial food industry was moving into the marketing of "organic" food. Peter Laufer was too, and as a journalist, he set out to track down a couple of organic products he had purchased and go back to their source.

This book is the story of his journey to find the sources of organic walnuts from Kazakstan sold by Trader Joe's, and organic black beans from Bolivia sold by a local retailer, Market of Choice.

In the process of researching the
...more
Boiling
It was a good look into the origin of our organic food and if our organic food is really what it claims to be, considering what we are paying for it. What started out as a nice movement, seems to be taken over by clever marketing lulling consumers into a security given by the organic seal.

It is nice to read something that is balanced as a lot of viewpoints tend to be militant - either organic everything is the cure all to this world or organics is bullshit.

It is not that I do not like investig
...more
BookBec
Feb 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
While I was very interested in the premise (and troubled by the findings), I found the book to wander even more than its author did in his global search for the origins of his "organic" foods.

One problem for me was the shifting times and places: Laufer's in Vienna; no, Eugene; but briefly California; now back to that stay in Vienna...

And all the characters! Yes, I understand that Laufer's chronicling his experiences and that all these people were involved in his quest. But I got tired of readi
...more
Jane
Mar 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you really want to start a new diet, read this book. You will lose weight fast - just kidding. But while reading Organic: A Journalist's Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling, I found myself beginning to question all food labeling, not just organic labeling. Then I started looking at everything while doing my grocery shopping. Amazing what we don't know, or what we take for granted. Mr. Laufer's book is an excellent study and interesting read and should be read by anyone who cooks ...more
Les
Old news, but bottom line: if you don't grow your shit and know everything about what you use to grow it and the winds that pass over and through it or know for certain everything about the source, transportation, storage and distribution of what you purchase, when you say it's "organic" you're lying - first and foremost to yourself. The author is both oblivious (don't nobody care about storytelling regarding those damn beans that late in the game of the book and why oh why did you call homeboy ...more
Metzi
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like the basic reporting style in this book. It kept it more like a blog, a journey taken through all the run arounds. I do not envy all the time, phone calls, emails, and meetings it took to get to the bottom of his investigation. I am grateful for one real example because it gives a foundation on which to conduct further research on the racket that is The Food Industry. Reading this book has given me more of a desire to eat as much real food as there is, to understand the potential lies behi ...more
Cleokatra
Sep 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I'm am environmental scientist though not an environmentalist. It's widely known within the scientific community that there are a lot of inconsistencies with regard to organic food. Many of the people who are most devoted to buying organic have no idea what the label means or what they are paying for. This book is a chronicle of a true believer, coming to grips with the reality of modern agriculture (both conventional and organic) and global commerce. It's an okay story. Three stars because of s ...more
Mary Teresa
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Benjamin
Oh look, with the huge increase in organic farming giant corporate farms are displacing the hippies, national food brands are sourcing supposedly organic produce from where ever is cheapest including countries rife with corruption and fraud. Meanwhile conflicts of interests with inspection agencies and suppliers coupled with an overworked, understaffed and powerless government oversight agency leave everyone in the dark in the name of "trade secrets". Who could have foreseen? Wait, it's just lik ...more
Keith Sader
The author does a good job about exposing the flaws in the organic certification process. The book doesn't deal with the larger questions around organic as a whole and the author seems to gloss over his personal acceptance of the multi-billion dollar industry's narrative. I found this book informative about the worldwide certification process. If you want a good book about how certification flaws, this is it. ...more
Kelli
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, health
Excellent investigation into the international organic food industry. Anyone who chooses to buy organic food should read this book.
Paul Bifford
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Trader Joe's is the villain in this one. I'm stunned, and glad I learned more about my food choices. ...more
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Peter Laufer, Ph.D., is the author of more than a dozen books that deal with social and political issues, including "Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq," "Wetback Nation: The Case for Opening the Mexican-American Border," and "Iron Curtain Rising: A Personal Journey through the Changing Landscape of Eastern Eurpoe." He is the coanchor of "The Peter Laufer Show" on radio station Gre ...more

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