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Aussie organic pains deepen

Date Published: 10/11/2009

Sometimes, having to adhere to strict regulation can seem burdensome. However, especially when it comes to food, we have adapted and accepted the need for safeguards and reassurances.

Sometimes there are challenges, but when it comes to it, the consumer is better off knowing that there are governmental and non-governmental bodies looking out for their interests. When there is just one case of deception relating to organic food it is big headline news, precisely because it is so rare.

In some ways, we take this safety net for-granted, particularly in Europe and North America. That’s why the pains organic production in Australia seems to feel on an ongoing basis seem so alien to us. I think we often assume their structures and values almost precisely mirror our own (albeit that they take sport even more seriously than we do!).

We mentioned on here a while back (in May, actually) that things were not looking positive for organic regulation Down Under. Now comes a story from the Sydney Morning Herald about pork being passed-off as organic in restaurants. There’s some suggestion that it’s largely unintentional, at least on the part of the restaurateurs, but it highlights the yawning chasm between the application of organic standards in much of the rest of the world compared to Australia.

Part of the backdrop to this is, it seems, that Australia hasn’t really embraced organic food and farming. But of course without a solid regulatory framework that consumers can trust without question, how will the market ever really get going? The suggestions in a number of pieces we’ve read recently are that there really isn’t much in the way of political will to apply a solution there (Psst, Aussie Government, we have a model you can use…).

Perhaps we should work on marketing to Australia with the message that when our exports say organic, they mean organic. That might kick them into life.