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Getting big — or not

(article, Culinate staff)

In the race to commercialize organic food on a national scale, some farmers and ranchers are encountering complications. Witness California farmer David Mas Masumoto's memoir on the Atlantic's food channel about his raisins turning up on Walmart shelves, and Arapaho Ranch's tribulations getting their organic, grass-fed beef onto Whole Foods shelves.

As Masumoto points out, "People on tighter budgets deserve organic options." But as the folks at Arapaho Ranch found out, consumers don't always want what farmers want — in this case, as The Faster Times noted, "the root of this economic problem is a marketplace where consumers want their meat fresh rather than frozen. This is due in part to the inconvenience of waiting for meat to thaw, and also due to the false assumption that freezing meat lowers its quality."

For the time being, you can buy organic raisins grown by Masumoto under the familiar Sun Maid label at Walmart. But that organic grass-fed Arapaho beef? Not available at Whole Foods.

And, as the magazine Foreign Policy recently complained, organic food won't necessarily save the world:

bq. If we are going to get serious about solving global hunger, we need to de-romanticize our view of preindustrial food and farming. And that means learning to appreciate the modern, science-intensive, and highly capitalized agricultural system we've developed in the West.