Not sure if this is the right forum for this but it seemed right. There is a book titled "Everything I want to do is Illegal!" It was written by a Virginia farmer and he tells a lot about food production in the US and exposes a lot of things like how "Organic" Food is a huge hoax. I recommend it to anyone.
Live now, and don't worry about what someone else thinks!
Written by Joel Salatin. I very much admire the man and what he has done to raise awareness and teach others about sustainable farming.
Calling organic food a hoax may be a bit of a stretch, as standards for chemical free food production are real, but it has strayed from what it was originally intended to do and organic has essentially just become another industry, not really encouraging community based agriculture.
"Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books." ~ William A. Albrecht
John, I may have something useful here if you will allow me.
I am a chef, and I face the labeling and consumer recognition (in addition to being regulated myself) paradigm on a daily basis. For an in-depth discussion of the evolution of the organic industry , I recommend Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma.
Organic has a legal USDA definition, and a food labeled for retail sale with that word must follow (relatively) strict rules on what they can and cannot do (ex: corn cannot be GMO, and cannot use glyphosate). For animals, there are minimums for square footage and access to XyZ, and the feed used to produce such aninals is likewise strictly described, and must itself be legally organic. Which, please don't misunderstand, is all GOOD. Organic is a far better choice than conventional for the long-term survival of, say, soil health--when you have that choice.
But what's being said here, I think, is that Organic (with the Big G) takes advantage of the pastoral, humble roots of the original movement. Organic as a certification that costs money in licensing and labelling annually, fees which the little guys often cannot afford and don't get. Large multimillion dollar companies--often the same companies who produce the conventional stuff--get into what their bean counters observe to be a lucrative game, and being powerhouses of industry, they use their dominance of scale and efficiency to mop the floor with their mom-and-pop competitors.
So companies like Petaluma Poultry in CA can market Rosie's Organic Chicken under the (carefully unspoken) assumption of rolling green hills and buttercups, when really it's another CAFO not markedly different from that of Tyson or any other mainline chicken manufacturer.
Many farmers--who are organic in all but the stamp--boycott the use of the term because of its almost guaranteed affiliation with multimillion dollar corporate conglomerates who hijacked their movement.
I second the Michael Pollan Omnivore's Dilemma read. It was my gateway book and the first I read that made me question not just our food system, but government and corporate systems in general. One con? Once you know a thing, it can't be unknown. Just saying. After reading his book, grocery shopping became a blood sport. (Probably why I just farm our food now...)
Also, for another complimentary read, and to get the ladies represented, Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a savvy look at hyper local sourcing of food and some unique challenges she faced doing a radius diet (only eat food generated within a certain radius of your home). It's more biographical and less investigative, although some investigation is included.
And if you wanna keep the Michael Pollan literary love alive, he just wrote a new book about using psychedelics as treatment for depression, anxiety, etc. Out May 15th. Because he's basically a badass.
Most Joel Salatin is very valuable. He's very good at outlining systems that work on his farm, with a lot of information to help even the smallest scale farmers. Salad Bar Beef is a killer read if you are feeling the bovine farm way of life. He basically brought his farm back from the brink of disaster and over grazing and his observations are priceless.