Okay, so Anheuser-Busch is apparently going to launch (or perhaps has already done so) an “organic” beer. And there’s been the usual hand-wringing from some circles: “Oh, no! When Big Business gets into organics, there goes our warm fuzzy safe food!” Eg, all the fuss last month when Wal-Mart announced it planned to start stocking its grocery shelves with organics, etc.
To which I say: get a grip! What did the hand-wringers THINK Big Business was going to do with this resurgence of interest in organic food? Ignore it?? (For the younger set, the first wave of organic mania was back in the 1970s. This second one is prompted in part, I believe, by the growing size and number of Whole Food outlets.)
Of course Wal-Mart, Anheuser-Busch, whoever isn’t going to ignore it! It’s the nature of capitalism to give the customer what he or she wants. And if middle class America wants enough organic stuff to allow what was once a small hippie outlet — Whole Foods — to become a national chain, well, OF COURSE other food purveyors are going to jump on board.
According to some hand-wringers, this is bad news because, well, farmers can only produce so much organic food. Once they’ve been stretched to their limit, then regulations will ease up and farmers will be allowed to produce slightly less “pure” crops but still call them organic. (I’m simplifying a more complex argument, but you get the drift.)
Translation: if Wal-Mart does it, it MUST be bad. I’m not sure I agree. I think the only reason Whole Foods hasn’t fallen prey to the same sort of criticism lobbed at W-M (and soon, I’m sure, at A-B) is because Whole Foods has this “image” of being a birkenstocky, pure sorta place. When in fact it’s just a big corporation whose main intent is to make money for its owners.
But in the minds of a certain segment of the population, WF is “pure” because that’s its image. And image, friends, is everything. Well, okay, maybe not eeeeeeverything, but it counts for a lot. (Think of actors: the more famous and well-paid they are, the harder their handlers work to persuade us that they’re just plain ol’ folks like the rest of us………)
So what’s the point? Well, I don’t really have one, except this: Big Business is gonna go where the middle class goes. And if that means organic foods are more accessible and affordable, well, that can’t be all bad!