Reports from around the country, most recently in the January/February issue of E Magazine and in a press release from The Cornucopia Institute, suggest that Wal-Mart has been playing fast and loose with its organic labeling. A quick cruise through the Super Wal-Mart on Riverside Drive in Asheville appeared to offer confirmation.
In the produce department, a large “organic” sign is displayed over bins of oranges and apples, and it turns out to be like comparing oranges and apples: The oranges are USDA-certified organic, the Jonagold apples are not.
In the dairy case, Stoneyfield Farm plain and French-vanilla yogurt are labled as organic on tags affixed to shelves – but they aren’t organic. And a few cases over, Silk brand soymilk flavors Very Vanilla, Enhanced and Chocolate as well as the house brand Great Value chocolate soymilk are similarly touted as organic – but they’re not.
And over in the pasta aisle, Heartland Penne has a green organic tag. Whole grain, yes. Organic? No.
The Cornucopia Institute is a nonprofit organic-watchdog organization based in Wisconsin. It first discovered and alerted Wal-Mart to the label problems last summer and subsequently filed a formal complaint with the USDA.
– Cecil Bothwell, staff writer