It’s a testament to Laufer’s skill as a writer and reporter that he can make an interesting and edifying book out of idle musings on the origins of some organic walnuts and black beans he bought at Trader Joe’s and a local health food store. The question of whether the walnuts from Kazakhstan or the beans grown in Bolivia came to Laufer’s table in Oregon without a boost from pesticides and chemical fertilizers becomes an examination of the $27 billion organic food business. His investigative zeal is spurred by the “obsessive secrecy” of Trader Joe’s PR response to his inquiries about the identity of the Kazakh farmer whose spoiled walnuts got him thinking about the compromises that “make every package of food certified organic suspect.” The book suffers somewhat from its inability to point to truly severe consequences of falsely labeled organic foods, and the one story of a successful prosecution of an Oregon farmer who passed off fake organic corn recalls a point Laufer raises early on: while this is important issue, it doesn’t make for “a very sexy story.” (July)
Reviewed on: 06/23/2014 Release date: 07/01/2014 Genre: Nonfiction
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