Last month Whole Foods announced that it has become the country’s first nationally certified organic grocer. In order to receive this seal, the chain implemented a series of rules to avoid any commingling of conventional and organic unwrapped products. To anyone who has ever tried to separate milk and meat, these are rules that seem a bit familiar.
Jill Richardson, who took a job there for her recent piece on Alternet, explains some of the new more arduous rules: “I, following the rules closely, occasionally had to decline customers’ requests to slice their non-organic bread in our bread-slicing machine, as it was designated for organic use only. Likewise, certain spoons and pitchers were reserved exclusively for organics, which we had to wash in separate sinks from the dishes used for conventional food.”
It’s not the only way the organic industry has come to resemble the kosher industry. In order to get its organic certification, Whole Foods had to go through the California Certified Organic Farmers — an independent non-profit agency that provides growers and retailers with their imprimatur, for a price. And just like with kosher products, the consumer often ends up covering the costs of such oversight.