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Articles by Samuel Fromartz

Samuel Fromartz is author of the recently published Organic, Inc.: Natural Foods and How They Grew. See excerpts and background at his website.

Featured Article

What’s the difference?: What seemed like organic fertilizer to farmers could have been spiked with the synthetic kind.Truck photo (left): Iris Shreve Garrott

It’s no secret that the organic food industry has seen explosive growth, taking only a mild drubbing through the recession and then continuing its ascent. At the heart of that growth has been trust — consumers are willing to shell out more bucks for organic because the food’s been grown without synthetic chemicals, with that claim verified from farm to market.

Yet two major cases of federal fraud have been filed in the past six months, rocking the California farming world and alleging that probably millions of pounds of produce sold as organic over several years weren’t worthy of the label.

So why haven’t you heard about this? Because the shady practices came from a side of the farming world that few shoppers think about: the fertilizer industry. And the real dupes weren’t consumers but organic farmers.

In March, Kenneth Nelson Jr. was indicted by a federal grand jury on 28 counts of mail fraud as part of long-running scheme to sell liquid fertilizer... Read more

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